Friday, January 28, 2011

Jamey Johnson, "Heartache"

If you haven't heard Jamey Johnson's new single yet, then I'm going to be quite frank with you - It's very creepy. 

The song's narrator is the personafication of "Heartache."  He was "born in a cave in the time of dinosaurs when a cave man caught his woman lovin' on the missin' link livin' next door."  In a low growl, he declares that he's "gnawin' on your pretty little wife" and merely "savin' you for later."  He even recalls a few of his "pretty good days" (involving Antony and Cleopatra, Jackie and J.F.K., Charles and Diana, et cetera), and then claims that "We're about to have some real fun."

Now let me pose a simple question to you:  Could anyone possibly play this character as convincingly as Jamey Johnson does?  Imagine if "Heartache" were performed by one of the typically happy-go-lucky acts such as Martina McBride or Sugarland.  It could easily have wound up a total farce.  But on the other hand, Jamey's deep-throated drawl is nothing if not the perfect fit for such darkly sinister subject matter.  Subdued organ tones and electric guitar chords offer the ideal sonic backdrop.  Seriously, when you listen to this single, doesn't it scare you at least a little bit?

Without a doubt, Jamey's "Heartache" is the best single 2011 has produced thus far (acknowledging the fact that that competition has not been particularly stiff).  Even just on paper, "Heartache" is a solid song.  It is a strikingly clever and unique concept that sounds like nothing we have heard on country radio in recent years.  But what really makes this a great record is the way Jamey just owns it!

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)