Chuck Johnson - Cotton Ain’t King
Cotton Ain’t King by Chuck Johnson is one of those easy sounding discs that works its way into you mind. There is nothing complex about this artist; his music is simple, heartfelt and captures the essence of the songs and the south.
Cotton Ain’t King is the track that stands out; with its emotion and passion, it captures the true Southern rock style in the vein of Gregg Allman’s Laid Back album from the seventies. With its understated guitar work and simple arrangements, you can hear the longing for times past that haunt the images of the track. The guitar work has a very subtle effect, much the way J.J. Cale plays, never over playing as so many guitarists do.
Raylene is a love song that takes a few unexpected twists and turns in the story line but it continues the haunting sound of angst that you can feel throughout the disc. There’s a Rain Coming is a mixture of country and blues. Never over stating, the obvious with his style Chuck Johnson captures the easygoing sound of southern rock and country that bands like Marshall Tucker Band and Cowboy were able to do. Johnson never gets lost in commercialism; instead, he works in the roots of southern music that transcends the genre tag.
Nail is the classic sound that so many fans crave. With its treatment of classic subjects of moonshine, the devil, killing, and the preacher trying to save a lost soul whisper though out the song. The lyrics say it all, “I heard the devil laughing when her face went pale”.
Preacherman again captures the essence of southern music, without becoming some overblown rock anthem. The easygoing feel if the disc is the true secret of Chuck Johnson as he is able to capture the feeling without falling prey to commercialism. Moore’s Road Blues has a lot in common with Marshall Tucker Band that many fans will identify with.
From start to finish, the disc delivers quality songs and Chuck Johnson proves that he belongs. Having grown up in a small town that just happened to have cotton gin and a railroad line that picked up the bales of cotton to take to the factory, the disc stirred haunting memories of the small town life when cotton was king.
Review by Vernon Tart