REVIEW: JORDAN DAVIS – BLUEBIRD DAYS (2023)

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“A little smoke from a grill

A buncha trucks in the field, yeah

This is how the start of a hangover feels

And that Skynyrd ain’t helping

Hell, I’m free as a bird too

‘Cause it’s Friday evening and I got a little bit of payday to lose”

Those words are the opening verse on Jordan Davis’ second record.  They actually do the job of reviewing it for me. Immediately, right from the get go, this is the country of the small towns, the songs of the working class, the god-fearing, the “Sunday Saints” (he’s got a song for that too, we’ll get to it).

In short, this is the stuff that goes Platinum. It goes to number one, It wins awards. It’s the country of Kane Brown, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and a million more.

Except that doesn’t tell the story, not totally, as to why it resonates so much all around the world. To paraphrase Counting Crows, I am not sat here looking out of my window somewhere in Middle America, instead, I am thousands of miles away in Middle England.

I saw the aforementioned Brown the other week a few miles from here. Sold out signs all over the place and people knew every word to his songs. And why? Well, because aren’t these songs – hewn from the red clay dirt though they are – about us all?

We all want the best for our families, most people want to find “the one” and most people live boring lives that aren’t on the news. That’s where these 17 songs come in. Pick them from anywhere and this I what you’ll get: “Money Isn’t Real”, urges you to look for the “real” stuff (easier to do when you’re skint I guess), “Tucson Too Late” casts our hero as he races to stop his true love getting married, “What My World Spins Around” has “the one” changing his life. It also helps that all of them are so damn catchy that they’re all potential number one records.

Nothing here – and I imagine no one is taking this as an insult – is cutting edge, but it is brilliantly done. “Sunday Saints” is as good as it gets and if this album has an anthem its this: “we’re the don’t stop believers, the somewhere in-betweeners, the Saturday sinners and the Sunday saints”.

In common with many of these albums (the type of thing that Shooter Jennings railed against on his brilliant “Outlaw You”) there’s some golden threads. There’s the aggressive ballad, “No Time Soon” there’s the dreadful pop one “You’ve Got My Number” is what the skip button is for, but there’s the reflection one. A gem called “Next Thing You Know.”

And so it goes on, these albums love a “fishing” song, but the twist on “Fishing Spot” is a tear-jerker and where would these things be without a Jason Aldean-style southern rocker “One Beer In Front Of The Other” – indeed, the drinking to get her off my mind thing is revisited on “Whiskey Weak”.

“Bluebird Days” – the album – is exquisitely done, and its title track is beautifully fragile. It’s tale of coming from a broken home will speak to many (luckily not me and I am grateful for that) and indeed, although “Part Of It” basically sums up the album in three minutes (right down to being left some of grandaddy’s farm)  towards the end of the album there’s a few songs that come in from left field. The claustrophobic “Midnight Crisis” is built around a haunting piano line and Danielle Bradbery’s duet is gorgeous, and if it all ends with the number one hit single “Buy Dirt” – featuring Luke Bryan – then you can see why it went platinum (twice).

And the same goes for the whole thing. “Bluebird Days” is yet another (probably the thousandth of the year so far it seems!) country record for us all. Full disclosure: I’ve loved country for getting on for thirty years since I heard Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Some Gave All” round my best mate’s house. His mum was playing it. I might not be the usual target market – there probably aren’t many socialist atheists in the crowd at Jordan Davis gigs, after all – but I know when I am hearing one from the top draw.

Rating 8.5/10

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