One of the criticisms that often gets mentioned about traditional Country music is that it’s kind of wooden when it comes to energy. Some people say ‘It’s more of an older person’s sound because the young have more attitude in their material.”
Those people haven’t listened to James Robert Webb.
Hailing from the state of Oklahoma, Webb learned the art of holding a crowd’s attention from an early age, and that education pays huge dividends on his brand new album. Previous singles “How That Feels” and “Put It In Drive” endeared him to audiences on a nationwide level, and Honky Tonk Revival should kick his career into a higher level.
If you like your Country with a heavy dose of swagger, you’re in luck here. Webb tips his hat to the female demographic with “Hard Working Women,” a song that shows that a woman can do anything a man can do – and with equal results. This one is sure to elicit a huge response from the audience wherever Webb takes his show. He borrows a page from the Haggard / Jones playbook with the rollicking title cut, which will bring any crowd out of their seats, as he does likewise on “Call Me Anytime.” With the raucous tempo he applies to the song, look for this one to garner a huge fan base for Webb. In addition to being one of the more radio-friendly tunes on this disc, the singer shows just how adept he is a no-frills honky-tonker.
Another highlight in this same vein is the peppy “Man On A Mission,” which reminds me of a Brad Paisley tune – complete with light-hearted lyrics and guitar riffs that will entertain.
But, if you prefer your sounds with a little more of a sensual feel, this album does not disappoint. James Robert Webb includes several ballads that showcase his rich voice to the maximum degree. Songs such as “Heart Hangover” gives him a chance to test his vocal range. The song is also noteworthy due to its’ dramatic melody – which makes the emotional crescendo all the more appealing. That formula also comes into play on “Falling Star,” on which the fiddle work adds just the right touch of a mournful flavor. Webb especially handles the twists and turns of the song well, making it one of the can’t-miss cuts on this album.
Honky Tonk Revival also gives James Robert Webb a couple of chances to pay homage to his heroes, George Jones and George Strait, with cuts of “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and “Nobody In His Right Mind Would’ve Left Her.” While it might have been career suicide to record the pair of 80’s classics the same way, Webb goes a new route on both. On the former, the arrangement is a lot more modern sounding – bordering on a bit more of a pop feel without losing any of the emotional undercurrent that made the song a classic, and he adds a bit of tempo to the Strait hit, making it sound fresh and new.
Tying it all together is the down-home wisdom of “Six Strings and the Truth,” a song that pays tribute to what all of Webb’s heroes paid attention to in songs – relatable stories and lyrics set to a beat that leaves an indelible impression on a mind. I have a feeling that Honky Tonk Revival is going to take Webb much closer to that hallowed ground as ever before!