Reviewed by Brian T. Atkinson
All of a sudden, it seems the soundtrack to Texas might be embraced by the entirety of America. First, longtime Longhorn favorite Jack Ingram rose from local cult hero to number one on the Billboard Country charts with the single “Wherever You Are.” Now, fellow Lone Star troubadour Pat Green seems poised to reach the masses, too.
High-profile gigs opening for mainstream acts like Dave Matthews Band, who’s also asked country outlaws like Steve Earle and Robert Earl Keen to support him, have helped. But the real key to Green’s potential breakthrough is the ability he shares with Ingram to craft highly relatable, intimate story songs.
For instance, the narrator in “Way Back Texas” looks longingly in the rearview mirror to a long-gone relationship: “We were gonna buy that little farm/Down by the river/And raise a family/Down in Way back Texas/Population you and me.” It’s a resigned sentiment that, if added to the CMT video rotation, could strike a chord nationwide.
There is, of course, risk that longtime fans will holler that Green is abandoning his more humble beginnings with the slick production of Don Gehman, who is known for his work with Hootie & The Blowfish and John Mellencamp. But take note: “Missing Me,” “Virginia Belle” and “Finder’s Keepers,” a lovely duet with Sara Evans, are as honest in their roots-rock as anything Green ever sang on the juke-joint circuit.