Released in 2006, this Wade Bowen album is perfect. There's really no other
Of course as an independent artist, Bowen has a lot more creative freedom than most mainstream performers. He's not confined to the cliches and time-worn motifs that have made mainstream country radio so unbearable. That's not to say that Bowen's songs don't tread in some of the same waters as some mainstream songs. Bowen has just mastered the art of swimming in the waters much better. As a result, the output is of much higher quality; it's more true, it's more honest; it's more real; and it's more believable.
Kicking off the album is "God Bless This Town," a country rocker about returning to a rumor-mill small town where roots have been planted and realizing nothing has changed.
Next up is the first pure highlight of the album, "One Step Closer." The first verse of the song uses a broken down car as an analogy for a relationship and where things stand:
"My windshield's cracked
Just like my heart
My tires are all flat
Just like my brain
My engine's runnin' rough
Just like my soul
Don't know how much further we can go
Burning this much oil"
From there, Bowen launches into a pure hook of a chorus:
"Let's burn all the bridges
Ignore all the signs
Put the hammer down
And listen to her whine
Don't know where we went wrong
But it's one step closer to you being gone"
The song is pure gold, a song that could have easily done well on mainstream radio if they'd been willing to give it any time.
The album also features two co-writes with Randy Rogers. First, is a song also recorded by Randy Rogers Band, "Lay It All On You." Bowen's version is just as good as RRB's version, if not slightly better. It's a song about continually giving another chance to someone who consistently breaks your heart. Despite this theme, the tempo and mood of the song is very upbeat and one a to which a true country fan can crank up the volume.
The second Randy Rogers co-write is "It's All Over Town," another upbeat track about a failed relationship; but this song has its own twist. Instead of dwelling on the failed relationship, it's agreed that the breakup was mutual and for the best--but criticizing the rumor mill that questions whether the relationship was ever given a real chance.
"They're gonna say what they want to say
Only you and I know what really happened that day
When you told me that I wasn't the one
And I agreed it was time to run away
From everything that we had
Well you drove away with tears in your eyes
The only thing left to say was goodbye
We threw away everything that we'd found
And it's all over town"
"Broken Reflection (Troubadour's Prayer)" is another highlight of the album: a prayer from a road-weary individual knowing he's made more mistakes than he can count, but desperate to try to change his ways.
And of course, then there's the title track, an absolute powerhouse of a vocal performance and one of the best songs I've ever heard in my life. It's not a song that can be simply described, as there is so much to it; a deep meaningful piece of songwriting delivered from a true master vocal performer.
I could go on and on about the brilliance of every song on this album, but I think by this point my feelings are clear. This is my number one album I couldn't possibly live without.