By Larry Stephens
Have you heard of Junior Brown? James Carothers? You’ll probably answer yes to Brown and “Who?” to Carothers. You need to change that.
Like Brown, Carothers’ take on country music is just off-center enough to make it really interesting.
These new country singers
They all sing about drinkin’
How it makes ’em have fun
But it got me to thinkin’
Something was missing, to me it was puzzling
It only gets better from there in “New Country Singers.” Carothers wrote the songs (except for one track composed by his father, Jim), does the singing and plays guitar. He’s backed by a group of very good session musicians including Eddie Bayers (drums), J. T. Corenflos (guitar), Scotty Sanders (steel guitar) and Gordon Mote, well known for his appearances with Bill Gaither and other gospel groups, on piano, as well as several other musicians.
While this is unapologetic honky-tonk music—loud, driving, often irreverent and sharp-witted—Carothers shows a softer side with “Where Did We Come From,” a song of memories of a kind of childhood that seems to have faded away.
Now the family and farm and pastures gone
But we got our SUVs
And we eat from a chain’s trough
And buy stuff made overseas
Well things ain’t quite what they used to be
I grew up in the country. I can’t argue with that.
He even includes a mystery song. Love, jealousy and…
35 years ago she was a looker and quite the magnolia prize
Had every feller ‘tween Yazoo and Tupelo
Talkin ’bout her big brown eyes
You ain’t ever felt another daughter of the delta
That’ll make you do anything
And it’s been a lot of years since she went and disappeared
Underneath the Mississippi clay
There’s a tin roof and some broke down cars
Covered in kudzu vine
Have you ever driven through rural Mississippi? This captures the feel of the countryside, sets the scene. Do I like his lyrics? You bet I do. The only downside is there are only seven tracks.
His drawling voice and his lyrics are not champagne music, but they don’t serve much of that in honky-tonks. If you like the music of Brown, Jennings, Haggard, Cash and a long list of like singers, you need to find a copy of this CD and spend some quality time with a dose of country.