The Hodgepodge: Red Dirt Favorites

Reckless Kelly

Once again, I found myself in a busy work week, and a long weekend of traveling and shutting out the rest of the world didn’t help either when it came time to write this week’s feature. I have no ideas simmering this week, so today I’ve decided to list a few of my favorite Red Dirt/Texas songs and albums. I’ll link most songs discussed and embed to the page, but I encourage all of you to listen to these and seek them out. I’m a big Red Dirt country fan and continue to expand and discover new songs and artists on a fairly regular basis.

Just to reiterate, these are my personal favorites. This list is not a top songs or “best of” list. And as always, I’d love to hear other recommendations if I overlooked a favorite of yours on this list.

Some Favorite Red Dirt Albums

Reckless Kelly’s Wicked Twisted Road – The title track of the album is probably my favorite Reckless Kelly song of all time, but this whole album is great. With hit after hit like “Seven Nights in Eire”, “Motel Cowboy Show” and “Baby’s Got a Whole Lot More”, Reckless Kelly delivers a solid album from start to finish. If you’ve never really listened to this band before, Wicked Twisted Road is a great place to start.

Wade Bowen’s Lost Hotel – Just as a simple country album, regardless of region or radio popularity, Lost Hotel stands as one of the best. Bowen delivers some powerful vocal performances on a few well written ballads and balances them with excellent upbeat country songs. Without a doubt, Lost Hotel is Bowen’s best album.


Seth James’ That Kind of Man – Seth James is a background player in Texas country, but his lone solo album is a constant on my iPhone. James has one of the best singing voices I’ve heard, delivering songs with captivating and powerful vocals. For a short time, James was also a part of Cody Canada’s new band, The Departed, where he and Canada swapped vocal leads on the band’s album Adventus. But James’ solo album is one to listen to over and over again.

Turnpike Troubadours’ Diamonds & Gasoline – This is an album loaded with great song after great song from the Oklahoma country band. Opening with “Every Girl” immediately followed by “7&7” sets a great mood and proves that country music can be fun without mentions of fireball shots. The album also includes a title track that tugs at your heart and the intriguing story of “The Funeral.” Diamonds & Gasoline is an album that doesn’t get old.

Some Favorite Red Dirt Songs

“Hank” Jason Boland & The Stragglers – An excellent country protest song about the state of country music. As great as the song is, it’s poignant with the hook line “Hank Williams wouldn’t make it now in Nashville, Tennessee.” That’s just a sad thought.

“Oh Tonight” Josh Abbott Band feat. Kacey Musgraves – Back before Musgraves’ big break, she collaborated with Josh Abbott on this love song. Her inclusion here is welcome and adds a great layer to the song. Both Abbott and Musgraves offer up great vocal performances on a great production.

“Alabama” Cross Canadian Ragweed – I’ve become a huge fan of Cody Canada’s over the past year, digging into the Ragweed discography along with The Departed. He’s written and recorded many songs I love, but this rocking love song stands as one of my favorites.

“Lost and Found” Randy Rogers Band – This breakup song from The Randy Rogers Band is one of their many great songs. I love the melody of the song and Rogers’ vocal delivery pulls at your heartstrings as he realizes how he messed things up in the relationship.

“Used To Be” The Great Divide – Written by Red Dirt founding father Tom Skinner, “Used To Be” reminisces of the way things used to be in a small town. Between the great upbeat lead guitar riff and the lyrics, “Used To Be” may be the quintessential Red Dirt song.

“Crazy Eddie’s Last Hurrah” Reckless Kelly – For those who think Tyler Farr is redneck crazy, let me introduce to Crazy Eddie. This song is absolutely absurd, but it’s so over-the-top that you can’t help but enjoy it. If you want to write a ridiculous break up song, this is how it’s done.

Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases

  • Tomorrow, The Turnpike Troubadours will release their new, self-titled album.
  • Eric Paslay has hinted at new music which will be revealed tomorrow.
  • Tim McGraw has announced the title of his next album, Damn Country Music. 
  • Next week, Don Henley will release his first solo album in 15 years. Cass County will hit the shelves on September 25.
  • Sunny Sweeney and Brennen Leigh sang a song together at a recent acoustic show in Austin, Texas.  “But If You Like Country Music” finds two men at the far ends of the political spectrum finding common ground in Merle Haggard. It’s a fun, witty song that you can’t help but enjoy.
  • Toby Keith’s newest single off 35 MPH Town is called “Rum is the Reason.”
  • Jana Kramer has a new album due out October 9 called Thirty One. The album features her current single “I Got The Boy” as well as her previous single “Love.”

Today in Country Music History

  • In 1923 country music’s first big star, and most influential singer/songwriter, Hank Williams, is born in Mount Olive, Alabama.
  • Reba McEntire makes her first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry in 1977.

Today’s Country Music history facts come courtesy of RolandNote.

Throwback Thursday Song

“Your Cheatin’ Heart” – Hank Williams. In honor of Hank’s birthday, it only seems appropriate for today’s throwback song to be one of his best. Hank recorded “Your Cheatin’ Heart” in one of his last recording sessions before his death at age 29. The song’s release immediately following Williams’ death propelled him to an instant success.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week


Foo Fighters – Songs From The Laundry Room. This four-song EP was originally compiled and released strictly for Record Day 2015, but Grohl and company re-released it for mass-consumption this month. Songs From The Laundry Room consists of demos of early Foo Fighters’ songs recorded in the early 90s, one cover of “Kids in America” and a previously unreleased song called “Empty Handed.” If you’re a fan of the Foo Fighters, this is a great EP to add to your collection.

Tweet of the Week

This fake “Drunken Martina McBride” twitter account is one of my favorite parody accounts. She pulls no punches when it comes to calling out bros on their stupidity.

An iTunes Review To Which I Shake My Head

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This was for Brett Eldredge’s Illinois. I listened to the album, and I don’t quite know where this reviewer heard “that true country sound” because I sure didn’t. Some crappy lyrics throughout the album, especially on “Drunk On Your Love” which is one of the dumbest, unoriginal songs ever. And don’t even get me started on that awful disco song he sang with Thomas Rhett.

Album Review – Lee Ann Womack’s The Way I’m Livin’

The return of Lee Ann Womack to country music couldn’t have come at a better time. Female country artists are struggling to make a dent in mainstream country music in radio and older artists are being pushed further from radio every day. Womack falls in both of these categories, making her album even more significant. She’s also no longer part of a major label, joining bluegrass label Sugar Hill Records. With this newfound creative freedom and some extended time off, the anticipation for her new album The Way I’m Livin’ has certainly been high. I should note from the beginning that she did not write a single song on this album, but this is not a problem. Instead of writing her own songs, she went out and did something I’ve been begging mainstream country artists to do. She brought in an all-star cast of writers for the songs on this album. Garth Brooks has been rumored to do the same thing with his album. There are so many talented writers out there that deserve to be noticed and by bringing in these great writers, it allowed Womack to focus more on her vocal performance on this album (which shines brightly I might add).

The album begin with the prelude, “Fly.” It’s a soft song about Womack wishing she was in heaven flying above and seeing the whole world. Her vocals are absolutely stellar (get used to me saying this throughout the review). The writers for this song are Reed Foehl and Brent Cobb. If you recall, Cobb also co-wrote and performed the background vocals on “Poor Sweet Me” on Lucette’s debut album. This song was also a good way to transition into the second song on the album, “All His Saints.” It’s an upbeat song about Womack looking to get to heaven someday. The song is definitely Christian-oriented. The instrumentation on this is pretty good and the beat really draws you into the song. Mindy Smith was the writer of this song.

“Chances Are” is a song about a woman’s tough luck romantic life and this sets the scene for her in a bar where she wonders what her chances are with the guy across the room. It’s a heartbreak song that features strong country instrumentation. Womack’s twangy and dynamic vocals really shine on this song. Fellow country artist Hayes Carll wrote this song and it’s great to see Carll’s work featured on a big album like this one. I’m looking forward to his new album next year. This song is followed by “The Way I’m Livin’,” the debut single from this album. I already reviewed this song (click here for the full review) and here’s the main snippet of the review: “This song is a traditional country song without a doubt, but it feels fresh and new still. This is the kind of sound all country artists need to be striving for, which is honoring tradition and brining new elements in to make it fresh.”  I will say after hearing the whole album that this song doesn’t come off as strong as I originally thought because there are better songs on the album.

The next song on the album is “Send It On Down,” which is about a woman praying to God to help her get out of her hometown. She wants to escape for many reasons, from her father’s hardware store being out of business to the men in the town having the unrealistic expectation that women should be rich to be attractive. It’s a real soulful song and I like the inclusion of the piano in the song. Chris Knight and David Leone do a great job with the songwriting. The great song writing continues on the Buddy Miller penned “Don’t Listen To The Wind.” It’s a song about a woman getting over a breakup and having a hard time escaping the memory of her ex. Womack’s vocals are excellent and she shows such great emotion in her voice at the right moments. The instrumentation is great too. One of the best songs on the The Way I’m Livin’.

Womack gets even better on “Same Kind Of Different.” It’s a stripped down love song about two different people who are really not different and are actually quite the same. They may not have experienced the same things in their life, but the feelings from these experiences are the same and this connects them. Natalie Hemby and Adam Hood exhibit top-notch songwriting and Womack once again blows me away with her vocals. This song is really the whole package and is arguably the best on the entire album. “Out On The Weekend” and “Nightwind” are two solid love songs from Womack, but each have a distinctive sound. The Neil Young song “Out On The Weekend” has a more Americana sound and “Nightwind,” written by Bruce Robison, has more of a country sound. The latter was a little more complex too, as the metaphors used in the song make you really pay attention to the story being told.

The low point of this album I feel is “Sleeping With The Devil.” It’s a song about a woman sleeping with a man who she believes is the devil. I’m not the song is bad, but it’s a bit repetitive and the theme is cliché. Womack already sang about the devil in “The Way I’m Livin’,” so maybe that’s why it feels repetitive. It is well written though, so kudos to Brennen Leigh. “Not Forgotten You” is another Bruce Robison penned song and it’s about a woman who continues to remember a man in her past. I felt this song could have had a little bit more to it, but it’s solid nonetheless. Although I found both of these songs to be slightly underwhelming, Womack’s vocals and the instrumentation are great on both of them.

Womack caps off her album with a bang in the final two songs. “Tomorrow Night In Baltimore” starts off with the beat of a drum and acoustic guitar. The instrumentation used in this song gives it a fresh and modern feel, yet traditional. It really has a distinctive sound compared to the rest of the album. The song is about a man who is still in love with his ex-girlfriend, who is a singer, and he’s determined to win her heart back. Despite her fame, he continues his pursuit of her. The writer of the song, Kenny Price, tells a nice little story through the lyrics. The album closes with “When I Come Around.” The song is about a woman looking for a man she lost contact with several years ago and she continues to wait for him around the spot where they last saw each other, hoping she can find him again. Again it’s a well written song that tells a good story that draws the listener in. Mando Saenz shows just how fantastic of a songwriter he really is and I hope more artists take notice of his talent.

Womack took several well-written songs on this album and just knocked them out of the park with her outstanding vocals. I’m going to reiterate once again what a great decision it was for her to recruit these fantastic songwriters for her album. Her husband and producer of the album, Frank Liddell, deserves credit too for a well produced album. The instrumentation never overtook Womack’s stellar vocals, which is important. When you have a vocalist with the talent of Womack you should always go lighter on the instrumentation and just let the vocals do the heavy lifting. Womack’s album is already being met with critical praise and her lead single, “The Way I’m Livin’,” is receiving radio time. And Womack did it her way too. She didn’t sell out to a major label nor did she try to play to radio programmers with her music. She made the music she wanted to and in the end when you make quality music like this people are bound to take notice. This album lived up to expectations and I certainly thinks it’s a top ten country album of the year. The Way I’m Livin’ comes highly recommended.

Grade: 9/10