Texan singer-songwriter Charley Crockett has been incredibly prolific since the release of his 2015 debut album ‘A Stolen Jewel’. Over the past six years, Crockett has released a remarkable nine albums and his latest, ’10 for Slim: Charley Crockett Sings James Hand’, arrived in February. Just shy of six months on from that release and Crockett is back with another album, ‘Music City USA’, which was produced by Mark Neill who Crockett previously worked with on his 2020 album ‘Welcome to Hard Times’.
‘Music City USA’ features 16 songs and it continues to see Crockett forging along on his own path. Paying no attention to what’s going on in the mainstream, Crockett has found his own niche recording music that sounds like the greats of the genre. There’s no studio trickery across these tracks, just passion and storytelling anchored by Crockett’s distinctive and engaging drawl. The gentle lilt of opener ‘Honest Fight’ finds Crockett reflecting on how he’s stood up for himself and done what he thinks is right throughout his life and career. It’s one of the many personal stories and lyrics contained across the record.
‘I Need Your Love’ switches gears moving Crockett’s sound into a soul-influenced moment that showcases a different side to his artistry. Taking us back to the 60s, with a captivating horn section and a swaying melody, it’s an early highlight on the album. Other moments worth checking out include the emotive ‘The World Just Broke My Heart’, the banjo-led barnstormer ‘Round This World’ and the bluesy soul of the defiant ‘I Won’t Cry’.
Elsewhere on the album ‘Lies and Regret’ has a punchy production that belies the mournful lyrics, the bouncy ‘Muddy Waters’ will have you tapping your foot as Crockett reveals more of his personal history, and ‘Hanger On’ brings to mind the might Merle Haggard. One thing to note about ‘Music City USA’ is that it very much supports the case for artists still making albums because listening to it as a whole in the intended sequence is far more satisfying than picking and choosing a few tracks.
‘Music City USA’ continues to build on Crockett’s reputation as an artist that isn’t afraid to make the music that’s in his heart. In some ways the album sounds like a discovery from yesteryear, and that will appeal to those who prefer their Country and Americana to be steeped in tradition. Crockett navigates his influences to infuse their best elements into his own distinctive sound and there’s no one out there right now making music like this.
Track listing: 1. Honest Fight 2. I Need Your Love 3. The World Just Broke My Heart 4. Are We Lonesome Yet 5. This Foolish Game 6. Round This World 7. Music City USA 8. Just So You Know 9. Lies and Regret 10. I Won’t Cry 11. Smoky 12. Muddy Water 13. 518 14. Only Game in Town 15. Hanger On 16. Skip a Rope Record label: Son of Davy / Thirty Tigers Release date: 17th September 2021 Buy ‘Music City USA’ now