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Listening: ‘Traveller’ by Chris Stapleton.

This album was the last one in my pile I gathered at the library last month. I was searching for new tunes to keep me distracted enough from crying every time I got into my Jeep to go somewhere.

If you’ve listened to Chris Stapleton’s debut album, “Traveller”, you probably know how and why it ended up on the bottom of my pile. I was driven to check it out from the library after seeing a news feature about Stapleton on “Sunday Today” (my favorite news program).

The feature aired the morning of the Grammy’s, as Stapleton was nominated. It also covered the entirety of his career, a major highlight being his performance of “Tennessee Whiskey” with Justin Timberlake at the 2015 Country Music Awards.

I will admit it was a moment that caught my ear and put Stapleton on my radar – his sound was bluesey, and that’s something I love.

But Stapleton has shared his story about his very popular debut; a piece of work he created after his father died in 2013. He took a road trip across the country with his wife, stretching across the West in an old Jeep.

Today marks one month since my dad passed away, and listening to this album over these last few weeks has been half-difficult and half-cathartic. Above all, I admire Stapleton for putting such raw emotions into a beautiful piece of art that will be enjoyed by many for years to come.

That’s the thing about being a creator – some of the best stuff comes from the darkest of places, and can be so helpful and rewarding to others.

The title track is one of my favorites, and honestly makes me think of every road trip I’ve ever taken – it’s upbeat, nostalgic, and it just gives me this image of driving with the windows down, overlooking a vast desert. I love it.

My heartbeat’s rhythm is a lonesome sound
Just like the rubber turning on the ground
Always lost and nowhere bound
I’m just a traveler on this earth

There’s a lot of talk of whiskey on this album; from “Tennessee Whiskey”, “Whiskey and You” and “Parachute”, it seems dark, but is probably honest.

My other favorite track has to be “Sometimes I Cry” – it basically sums up my life lately, and it was so bare and raw I can’t help but love it.

The entire Stapleton sound reminded me so much of Marc Broussard, an artist I’ve admired for many years. I don’t know who came first, but they have fantastic similarities.

I’m looking forward to checking out more of Stapleton’s music – I know there’s a few more albums to listen to for me to catch up. Blues music can bring out those deep cuts – it’s not pop music. Sometimes it’s difficult to hear, but there are times for that, too.

This month has been so hard, this week probably being one of the worst. When all of life’s distractions fall to the side, I’m sort of left with a feeling of what to do next. For now, I’m going through the motions, going easy on myself, and I’m starting to get a few things in an order I can appreciate.

On Thursday, I was half-listening to a webinar, when I heard a few things that caught my attention: “Your best work comes from a place of elegant excellence.”

Hmm… perhaps there’s some truth to that.

I’ve had so many memories and thoughts swirling around in my head, I’m due for a journaling session. I’ve got a few ideas brewing and I know I’m on the brink of something big – something that may help heal, too.

There are days that I can walk around like I’m alright
And I pretend to wear a smile on my face
And I could keep the pain from comin’ out of my eyes
But sometimes, sometimes,
Sometimes I cry
                               -Chris Stapleton
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Listening: ‘Pain Killer’ by Little Big Town.

Continuing on my journey of listening to country albums form 2014… I’ve been jamming out to Little Big Town’s “Pain Killer” the past few weeks.

This was the first album from Little Big Town that I’ve listened to, and really the only song from them I’d paid much attention to was “Girl Crush”, which is track 5 on the album.

Although I like “Girl Crush”, I ended up liking a few songs even more! My favorite song on this album is “Stay All Night” and I could see it being my summer anthem for… well, the rest of my life.

Oh, wish this drink would never end
Hell, I just caught my second wind
Why don’t the good stuff ever last
It comes and goes and it goes so fast
They’re shuttin’ it down and turn on the lights, yeah
Wish we could stay all night

I also really enjoyed “Day Drinking” – “Don’t want to wait til the sun’s sinking, We could be feeling all right, I know you know what I’m thinking, Why don’t we do a little day drinking.” This song reminds me of game days, and also anytime I’ve been on a boat. It’s a fun track.

“Good People” is another lighthearted one, and it was fun to sing along to. And finally, I love “Live Forever”, even though it made me tear up a few times – it’s a beautiful song and I found it got stuck in my head a lot.

One cool thing about Little Big Town is that the group is comprised of so many different voices, each track has a little bit of a different sound. Of course, that doesn’t work out well if you’re not a fan of everyone in the group, but I liked it.

The tracks were fun, but they were also soulful at times, and I heard a few hints of Bonnie Raitt in there that I really enjoyed.

Little did I know that “Pain Killer” is the groups’ 6th album, so it looks like I’ve got some catching up to do – I’ll have to check and see what the library has in stock!

Listening: ‘Platinum’ by Miranda Lambert.

A semi-oldie but a real GOODIE.

It should come as no surprise that I’ve been going through some tough times lately, and one of the most difficult things for me has been driving in my car – I cry all the time in my car.

I realize how pathetic this sounds, and it is frustrating for me because I’ve always enjoyed taking drives – just for the sake of it – especially when my mind needs clearing. But, as I’ve mentioned, things that once worked for me aren’t really working anymore, so I’m left searching for new solutions.

Which brings me to this 2014 Miranda Lambert album. I thought that maybe if I changed the atmosphere within my Jeep – I’d do a little less crying. So, when I went on my most recent library trip, I dug through their selection of country CDs.

I knew the songs from a total bad ass such as Ms. Lambert would help me.

I didn’t grow up on country music, but I came to love it the summer I left Indiana and headed South. I have always admired the soul behind the songs, and when country went “nautical”, I love dreamin’ about the beach while listening (and sippin’ a cold beer).

I have been honored to interview many country legends (ahem, Tracy Lawrence) including Ms. Lambert, during a nationwide tour when she was married to Blake Shelton. She remains to be one of my country favorites for her ability to stay strong, and show her true roots. I love that about her!

While I hadn’t heard “Platinum” in its entirety, I’d heard hits such as “Little Red Wagon” and “Automatic”, both of which I love.

You can’t ride in my little red wagon
The front seat’s broken and the axel’s dragin’
No you can’t step to this backyard swagger

My favorite song has to be “Smokin’ and Drinkin'” featuring Little Big Town – it’s totally nostalgic and has all the fixins of a perfect country song (smokin, drinkin, love, and campfires).

But even though Lambert and Shelton didn’t announce their divorce until mid 2015 – this record makes it OBVIOUS that things were on the rocks between them. Take into consideration the lyrics of “Priscilla”?

Priscilla, Priscilla
He’s always in high demand
How do you or don’t you get the love you want when everybody wants your man?
It’s a difficult thing being Queen to the King
And I feel ya
Priscilla

It’s a fun track, but I heard that and knew it had to be written about her marriage troubles (especially since Lambert was his mistress in a previous marriage).

My other two favorite songs are “Somethin’ Bad”, which is a duet with Carrie Underwood, and “Another Sunday in the South”, a hazy song about day drinkin’ and night fishin’ (what more could you want in life?!).

Overall, this is a fun, well-rounded album. I’ve been listening to it all week (and have not been crying), and I realized I needed to listen to the other CDs I picked up: one of Little Big Town and one from Chris Stapleton.

You’ll be seeing my reviews of those, too!