When I first heard of this album’s release, I couldn’t wait. I knew it was going to be something special. Two of my absolute favorite artists were putting out a collaborative studio album. Two artists with distinctive styles who frequently collaborate on writing and who do regular shows together were finally giving the nation a taste of what their region has known for years – these two are masters of the craft and among the best in the business.
The album works perfectly. This isn’t simply two artists deciding to put an album out together: these are two artists who’ve worked together, who know each other, who can play off each other musically and in their personalities. And that’s what they do. Songs like “Good Luck With That” showcase a banter between these two which could just as easily be a conversation that they’re having over a beer, backed by true country instrumentation and beat. “In the Next Life” works in a similar way.
“Standards,” which at this point we’ve all already heard in advance of the album is of course their own version of a protest song. “I don’t have hits, I’ve got standards,” the two singers say when they’re asked to cut a song that will be a hit but isn’t true to them. And a song like “El Dorado” even harken back to the days when country music was called “Country and Western.” It’s a very throw-back song and I’d call it one of my favorites on the album, right along with “Til It Does” (if I could find a way to get any of these songs out of my head).
“Hangin’ Out in Bars” is a song where the singers try to get over a breakup by going out to bars. While this may sound like standard country fare, these two make it work by showing the toll that it takes on them; they manage to make a fun song while still acknowledging that this lifestyle isn’t going to lead to anything good. Those consequences though are never explored in the song though – only the knowledge that they’re right around the corner.
“Lady Bug” was another song that Wade and Randy shared in advance of the record. It’s a simple feel-good tune about looking for a sign of something good in otherwise hard times. Sure, that may sound depressing when you read just that, but the song is just so much damn fun that you can’t help but smile when listening to it!
One of my favorite aspects of this album is its overall feel. Neither artist own this album: it’s exactly what it’s billed as – a collaborative effort. Neither artist outshines the other, and neither artist is trying either. As I’ve said more than once in this review already, these are two artists who’ve known and respected each other for a long time, and that’s what shines through on the album.
My hard copy of the album got delayed in the mail and still hasn’t arrived, so I only received my digital copy of the product today. The digital copy that came from my pre-order from RandyAndWade.com also included two live bonus tracks, Randy Rogers’ “Lost & Found” and Wade Bowen’s “Trouble.” These are great songs from each of their individual catalogs.
The album has a “Vol. 1” as part of its title. I’m hoping that this means that in the near future, there will be a Vol. 2.”