On Everything Except Goodbye from John Howie Jr and the Rosewood Bluff, Howie plumbs new depths with his voice. We're talking Junior Brown levels of baritone here. We're talking mile long drawls. And when John Howie Jr. sings the chorus of the title track on Everything Except Goodbye and drawls out "goodbye" into about 17 syllables, it's both an amazing feat of vocal control and a tribute to the sounds of vintage country music, like we like to remember it.
The title track is just about the perfect classic country sound. It's got that two-step opener and then launches into a shuffle that lays down a bed for Howie's amazingly melodic vocals. What I like about this song so much is the interplay between Howie's vocals and the pedal steel. In so many half-baked country bands, the pedal steel there is to give the song some small semblance of emotional feel to it because the singer is so deadpan. But on this track the pedal steel and Howie's voice are almost like a duet, co-equals and interwoven with each other.
The opening track, "The Man I Used To Be," is the track that is most reminiscent of the Two Dollar Pistols. It's one of those Been Done Wrong But I'm Still Standing songs he's so famous for. How he can keep going back the well of sorrow and coming back with these break up songs over and over is a mystery. I suspect a deal with the devil.
But I've got to say the knock out track on the album is "Why You Been Gone So Long." It's got a wind up like a classic country rock crooner. The lyrics have a soul song vibe. The chorus has that sing-along-hook going for it. And then there's the bridge. To say more would be like spoiling a movie. So I'll just say that both the high point and low point of the album is on the bridge of this song.
I'm adding "The Man I Used To Be," "A Hell Of A Note," "Everything Except Goodbye," "The Wash-Up," "Suspicion," and "Why You Been Gone So Long."
John Howie Jr. was my guest on episode 190 of the Americana Music Show.
- "A Hell Of A Note" is featured on Americana Music Show #248.
When North Carolina's honky-tonk heroes the Two Dollar Pistols broke up in 2008- leaving behind a legacy that included five full-length CD's, an EP of duets with Grammy nominee Tift Merritt, and several US and European tours- lead singer/songwriter John Howie Jr. already had the seeds planted for a new group, one that would continue the Pistols tradition of making soulful honky-tonk based music for contemporary times. Bringing drummer Matt Brown over from the Pistols, John recruited pedal steel guitar ace Nathan Golub, christened the new band John Howie Jr and the Rosewood Bluff, and set about writing a new batch of songs.