Well, it looks like I may have jumped the gun on my top albums of the year. But, I can't be blamed. Once again, Roger Alan Wade, has released a full length album online with little or no advance promotion. I just open my email and see thirteen new tracks from one of my favorite singer/song writer's. It is always a nice surprise to say the least.
For those who are not familiar with Ol' Roger, he started as a songwriter in Nashville, penning songs for the likes of Johnny Cash, George Jones, and Waylon Jennings. He even wrote "Country State of Mind", which took Hank Jr. to #1 in 1986. After Nashville decided he was no longer needed, he performed all over the nation in tiny honky-tonks. Finally, in 2005, his cousin, and Jackass star, Johnny Knoxville, started his own label specifically to release Roger's music.
"All Likkered Up" was the album that got Roger some national attention. It is mainly a novelty album, with songs such as "Poontang", "She's Gone Back to Whoring", and the often covered "If You're Gonna Be Dumb". While, the album was great and heard by many, it certainly did not showcase Roger's true song writing talent.
"Stoned Traveler" came out in 2009, which was a mix of the novelty songs, but also included more heart felt and personal numbers. Than, in 2010, the world was treated to "Deguello Motel", a songwriting masterpiece, and one of my top 5 albums of that year. This record truly showed off Roger's song writing skills and took his personal stories to a whole new level. It was also his first attempt at writing a sober album.
Last year, Roger, once again, unexpectedly, released "Too Fat Too Fly", where he dipped back into his humorous side. While, I enjoyed the album, it din't really compare with "Deguello Motel", but I also thought that he may never reach that level again. But, low and behold, we now are to "Southbound Train", a true follow up to "Deguello"
And, this album is amazing. Once again, it is just Roger and his guitar. Would we want it any way else? Of course not. Roger's vocals are so incredibly strong, and the song writing is comparable to the best in today's world. The title track opens the record, and really sets the tone from there on out. "You can bury my body in Detroit City in the morning rain, when I die, just lay my soul on a Southbound Train". You can't really compete with lyrics like that. And, it certainly doesn't stop there.
"If Guitars were Guns" is up next and floors me once again with lryics such as "Some people play music for fortune and fame. Hell, I'm poor and a nobody, but I play just the same" Simply moving stuff. I am not one to usually quote lyrics in a review, but Roger is a different kind. You listen to these albums for the lyrics and vocals.
The album keeps the somber tone throughout with stand out tracks being "True Love is Even Harder to Find", "Still on the Run" and "Greyhound Bus". Judging by the title, I thought we might have gotten a humorous track with "Wine Dripping From Your Lips", but it actually turned out to be a pretty happy love song.
"She Loves Me, I Love You, You Love Him", is the closest we get to "All Likkered Up" style Roger, with a fun song about a love triangle. But, even still, it is still a pretty serious written song.
Overall, "Southbound Train" is Roger Alan Wade at his best. This is certainly one of the best of the year. It is soulful, real, and pure. Just a man, his voice, and his guitar.
"Southbound Train" is not yet available as a physical album yet, but will be soon. For now, you can pick it up on iTunes or Amazon!