We’ve certainly got a bumper crop of artists keeping classic country alive, but who’s carrying the torch for the neo-traditionalists? 90s-era country music is beloved by many, so to see an artist like Randall King step up to the plate is just what the doctor ordered.
King grew up on artists such as George Strait and Keith Whitley, so it’s no surprise to hear him honor those influences on his self-titled debut album. With catchy hooks, fantastic instrumentation, and well-written songs, this is an essential listen for any country music fan.
The key word with this album is “balance.” King shows off his playful, goofy, charming side on tracks such as “Cool Under Pressure,” “Tuggin’ On My Heartstrings,” and “Dent In It.” With his huge charisma, it’s hard not to smile at many of the songs here, even if they do come with cheesier hooks that were a trademark of the 90s (“Heartstrings” is one example).
On the other hand, King really shines in the second half of this release, showcasing some of the finest country songs of the year. Those who know someone suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia will surely relate to “When He Knows Me,” a track that reminds us to be thankful of the good days while we have them, because they mean more now than ever before. Gentle acoustics are also the bedrock for tracks like “One Goodbye,” and “One More Won’t Hurt,” with King’s vocal delivery coming from more of a softer, vulnerable position.
In addition to “When He Knows Me,” two of the tracks toward the end of the album really showcase King’s potential as a songwriter. “Her Miss Me Days Are Gone” is enjoyable enough for that catchy chorus, but it also shows maturity in its depiction of a man who’s happy his ex-lover has moved on from his own wrongdoings.
“Reason To Quit” trades in some of the slicker electric guitars for a track that’s led almost exclusively by dobro. The lyrics pack a twist, leading listeners to believe it’s about a man who can’t get over an ex-lover, only to later find out that she didn’t leave him physically – she passed on. It’s what makes a line like “I don’t need a doctor to tell me its depression” hit so much harder when played back.
The only thing you could really knock this album for is maybe being a little too stuck in the past, but one could argue that’s also part of the appeal. This album has a little bit of everything, from fun up-tempos to more serious, mature numbers, showcasing an artist who has a great handle on his identity. For those who miss the sounds of the country music of yesteryear, this is an essential listen. Find album and tour information here.