John Paul White The Hurting Kind
- Released: April 12, 2019
- Originally Released: 2019
- Label: Single Lock Records
- 1.The Good Old Days
- 2.I Wish I Could Write You a Song
- 3.Heart Like a Kite
- 4.Yesterday's Love
- 5.The Long Way Home
- 6.The Hurting Kind
- 7.This Isn't Gonna End Well
- 8.You Lost Me
- 10.My Dreams Have All Come True
Recording information: Sun Drop Sound, Florence, AL.
John Paul White's The Hurting Kind has been advanced as a return to Nashville's "countrypolitain" sound of the 1960s. He enlisted the aid of Country Hall of Fame heroes Bill Anderson and Bobby Braddock as co-writers on three cuts, and his and Ben Tanner's production style for the album certainly reflects that influence. But White is no stranger to countrypolitain: On his 2016 offering Beulah, he delivered "I've Been Over This Before," a classically wrought, languid, honky tonk shuffle guided by an Owen Bradley-esque blueprint mix.
White recorded The Hurting Kind at Sun Drop Sound, a home studio converted from an early 20th century house in the historic district of Florence, Alabama, as well as at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Previous to recording, he was immersed in listening to classic country albums by Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline, Roy Orbison, and Chet Atkins, among others. Their vibes inspired him to connect with Anderson and Braddock -- they both assented. This album walks the line between his established, original approach to Americana and his lifelong love of '60s country.
Poignant opener "The Good Old Days," with its strident mandolins, electric guitars, fiddle, and drums reflects the latter. It rocks with an approachable mix that contrasts with sardonic indirect lyrics referencing America's dramatic political era without being preachy. There's irony at work here: The tune derides nostalgia even though most of the album is informed by musical history. "I Wish I Could Write You a Song," penned with octogenarian Anderson, is introduced by a twangy Gretsch, upright bass, and pedal steel. It's filled out by an army of guitars, strings, timpani, and Erin Rae's sweet backing vocals. White's wafting tenor hovers above the anthemic, sweeping choruses, evoking the spirits of Orbison and Reeves. "Heart Like a Kite" is a gorgeous country waltz with twin lead guitars, steel, fiddle, and the right amount of reverb. It's a hell of a heartbreak tune. Both the rocking "The Long Way Home" and the languid title track underscore White's riveting, bluesy approach to Americana. His Braddock collaboration, "This Isn't Gonna End Well" -- with special guest Lee Ann Womack as a duet partner -- is one of dramatic, near-theatrical scope; it's framed in strings, vibraphone, timpani, steel, electric guitars, and drums, and so drenched in country-soul it could have been cut by Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn. Immediately following is "You Lost Me," a sultry barroom waltz penned with Anderson and Jamey Johnson that drips with heartache and desperation, and is adorned by Rae's backing vocals amid sweeping, old-timey fiddles. While "James" is an exercise in sad, pastoral dreaminess and fine poetry, closer "My Dreams Have All Come True" pairs Orbison's and Bradley's production aesthetics with White's particular gift for lyrics and melody. It's a chilling send-off and evidences his finest singing on the set. The Hurting Kind stands head and shoulders above Beulah for its mature vision, powerful focus, and poetic songwriting and production. It is White's finest moment thus far. ~ Thom Jurek
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