Americana Highways - Review
Drew Young – Bourbon & Bad Decisions
Another late submission worth exploring is the June 2022 release of Drew Young’s 14-song, 41-minute collection distilled in New Orleans, LA. The majority of the tracks are previously released singles, remastered singles, live versions (3) & some never-before-released songs.
The opener “You’re Just Too Good To Let Go,” is instantly infectious. It’s well-played & Drew has a honeycomb of melodies. Each has that pull of appeal. His voice is deep, rural & each song is preserved in a down-home soulful feeling. Each tune stands a chance at being mainstream ready for radio.
The majority of the work on Bourbon & Bad Decisions (Dropped June 20, 2022–Better Than Pretend Productions) is written out of experiences collected as Drew traveled the world. The typical emotional drain & exhilaration of love, loss, learning & longing. In a word – life. Some songs can be construed as crooning but Drew’s a songwriter & and troubadour & instead of writing novels, he encapsulates his tales into songs with melodies. Short melodies = short stories. And his voice is that galvanic voice of experience & trust. He already has that grandfatherly voice that no matter what the issue – never says a discouraging word.
The title cut “Bourbon & Bad Decisions,” is performed with unmitigated zeal & the background vocals are soulfully ignited to elevate the song & embellish its fluency. I like this kind of rocking folk music that is home to people like Steve Earle, the Del-Lords, Jason & the Scorchers & the late J.J. Cale. The Cale comparison is evident in “The Georgia Line.” A prickly haunting melody with a delicacy of mystery & imagination with graveyard fog & bristling guitar notes. Artistic. Devilishly brilliant.
I appreciate the songwriting & the musicians, but the bottom line is often whether the singer can inject the required trigger factors. Can they tell the story effectively that the lyrics are laying out? Why does Bob Dylan sound better than a polished, trained vocalist on some of his songs? Because Dylan sounds like he lived the lyric. Not the Julliard-trained Simonized singer. Drew Young’s voice goes with what he’s singing. They connect.
The songs vary in topics & have the cohesion that Drew’s voice demands. With the song “Stuck On Something,” was recorded in Nashville with some colorful language that will prick the ears & pass by. Drew sings mournfully & beautifully with Amy Trail’s Delta-soulful wails as impressive as The Blessing’s William Topley with Rebecca Price on “Delta Rain.” These 2 songs can segue together & this CD is worth the price just for this song. The CD is filled with fluency that will engage ears with its punchy arrangements & Drew’s smoky vocal.
Highlights – “You’re Just Too Good To Let Go,” “Try Me,” “Bourbon & Bad Decisions,” “The Georgia Line,” “A Couple of Rounds Before I Go,” “Stuck On Something,” “It’ll Be Soon,” “Wondering Where This Will End,” & “Sing Me a Happy Song.”