John Anderson has one of the best, and one of the most recognizable singing voices in country music, and he's in top form on "Years." It's expertly produced by Dan Auerbach (of The Black Keys) and David "Fergie" Ferguson, and Anderson and Auerbach wrote all of the songs, sometimes with the help of noteworthy songwriters like Pat McLaughlin and Larry Cordle. It's a nearly perfect, 10-song album, too.
A few of its songs address aging head-on, opening with "I'm Still Hangin' On," and again with the title track. The banjo and harmonica accented "Celebrate" also takes a few moments to be thankful for the gift of life. There's also a collaboration with Blake Shelton, "Tuesday I'll Be Gone," that works. The album closes with the semi-Roy Orbison-esque "You're Nearly Nothing," which includes pretty female backing vocals. Although the producers didn't go for it all the way, one can easily imagine a full Orbison orchestration on it.
The album's instrumentation is consistently traditional all the way through, which always sounds natural and unforced. "Years" does feature a rock electric guitar solo, but it nevertheless fits the song's anthemic nature. Anderson's amazingly unique voice is the central focus throughout, though. During "I'm Still Hangin' On," Anderson notes how "There were people placing bets that I'd be dead and gone." Let's all be thankful these folks lost those bets. Anderson recorded one of the best albums of the year, which only makes us want to hear more from him for many years to come.