Alias James – Free Country, Track by Track

Another Last Chance – A stripped down arrangement of one acoustic guitar, pedal steel, and vocal harmonies reminiscent of The Eagles, is a bittersweet evocation of passing time:  “life in the saddle means broken bones, that take forever but somehow mend.”  

Free Country – Featuring some serious hoedown fiddle playing (Jenee Fleanor), vocal harmonies, “Free Country” is a conversation between a lonely rodeo cowboy and a woman who is deciding to leave him and his “ghost town heart” to see what more the world has to offer, with a sharp detour in the bridge for a depiction of someone being pulled over because of the way they look.  

Temptation (Vision To The Blind) – Combining an old-as-the-hills country theme with a hip-hop drum loop, ambient pedal steel and fiddle, delivered via the stream of consciousness dialog between what the singer is trying to tell himself and what other voices in his mind are saying: “coming at you like a twin tornado all you need now is an anchor and a halo.”  

Catch Myself – A straight ahead rocker with cinematic pedal steel shadings, a groove that conjures Tom Petty, and ends abruptly with “it’s all good as it can be when you’re ridin' right next to me and then I catch myself.”  

Kickin Up A Shitstorm – Alt / outlaw country that asks “what’s gonna happen when there’s nothin movin' on the screen,” with an arrangement that goes from “Heart of Gold” – era Neil Young to layers of guitars a la the Allman Brothers and features the radio-killing line: “see it on a hashtag gonna be a big drag when it blows up in your face like a fucked up airbag.” 

Blue Enough For Two – An outlier in this widely diverse collection of songs, sounding like an old standard Willie Nelson might have recorded during his “Stardust” period, and features pedal steel in an acoustic setting of country jazz chords and stand-up bass.  

Hell (If I Don’t Cry) – A driving, uptempo honky-tonk twangfest, with wall to wall pedal steel, a tongue-in-cheek barrage of lyrics that verge on country rap (“sittin on a tailgate listenin to George Strait”), invoke the devil and hell with a sense of humor (“got a heart like the Titanic   goin down to the sound of violins but that iceberg ice cold icewater’s like a sweet dream     down where the flames are burnin up their sins”) and a chorus that is hard to shake (“hell if I know why hell is where I go and hell if  don’t cry”).   

Where You Used To Be – A country waltz that shows the influence of age, both in the lyrics and in the vocal with its shades of late Merle Haggard or Tom Waits, and features heartstring-pulling pedal steel stylings:  “and if you’re gone who’s walkin next to me there’s a hole in my heart where you used to be”. 

Thousand Headlights – The “Heart Of Gold” groove under a song for and about the road: “I know highway signs tellin me I’m movin' on and I know I could drive for days and still ain’t gone    and I know what they call this road that I’m on but I don’t know why it keeps on killin me.”