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Jon Pardi

Heartache Medication – 2019 (Capitol Nashville)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Jon Pardi

Jon Pardi may sing about heartache medication with this collection of songs, but his focus on arrangements filled with traditional musical elements (fiddle, steel guitar and twangy electric guitar) is joyfully medicinal for anyone sickened by so much mainstream country music that lacks many (if not all) of these essential country instruments.

These songs read as well as they sound, though. For example, the drinking song "Me and Jack" begins with a thumping, Johnny Cash-inspired country groove. Pardi begins by recalling, "Back when I was just 18/I met the man in black," and the listener is certain this is a Cash-related memory. However, this black figure turns out to be black-labeled Jack Daniels. It features the unbeatable combination of witty words and tasty electric guitar and fiddle. The prettiest and saddest song is "Ain't Always The Cowboy," which weeps over a girl that leaves the guy (rather than the other way around). Pardi had already introduced this song while on tour with Dierks Bentley, and it's just as powerful in this studio version. "Don't Blame It on the Whiskey" is a lovely country ballad that also features Lauren Alaina. It was written by a quartet of songwriters that included Eric Church and Miranda Lambert (oh to be a fly on the wall during that writing session). Even the bad-pun-titled "Tequila Little Time" is a pleasure, due to its Mexican horn-augmented arrangement.

Pardi is not a powerhouse vocalist, but like George Strait, he surrounds himself with top tier songs and musicianship, and gives each song all the vocal power necessary. It does the heart good to hear music like Pardi's on the radio. These songs are as fun as they are relevant and just what the doctor ordered for traditional country music starved listeners. You'll take this medicine without even complaining.