Try to find a real country album by a mainstream artist, better Jamey Johnson's "The Guitar Song" Good luck.
Jamey Johnson is bringing back real country music. Some of his fellow artists have followed his leads, but not to this degree.
I remember seeing Johnson play a show in San Jose, Calif. about five years ago, and he was good. But I never could have anticipated that he'd carry the torch for traditional country music.
Shortly after I saw him, he was released by his record label and he recorded some music, exclusively digital.
Usually, that's one of the first steps on the journey to obscurity.
But Johnson's music was so strong, gritty and well-written. He'd been writing songs for other artists, most notably, "Give It Away," by George Strait.
After "That Lonesome Song" produced the radio hit, "In Color," Johnson had made an impact on country music fans.
The title track, with Country Music Hall of Famer Bill Anderson, is excellent. Anderson is a frequent songwriting partner of JJ. The song is told from the perspective of a guitar.
Like Whisperin' Bill, there's plenty of spoken-word in the album, which brings fans back to the Golden Era of country music.
Yes, the album is pretty melancholy at times (and you have to be in the right kind of mood to listen to it), but these are 25 songs that would have fit perfectly back in the days of Haggard and Jones. How many albums today can you say that about?
Let's hope this is just the beginning of Johnson's country music career. He played by Nashville's rules on "The Dollar", and still did OK.
Now, he's approaching the music game on his own terms. And the fans, who can only tolerate so much pop-country, are the big winners in this scenario.