Who: Alabama’s own Jamey Johnson, a shit-kicking, hard-drinking badass who is well on his way to being country music’s biggest outlaw.
Sounds Like: To start, think Steve Earle and Merle Haggard, not Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban. On his album That Lonesome Song, Johnson mixes tender ballads like “In Color” with barnstormers like “High Cost of Living” and raw country tales influenced by booze, drugs and his own divorce. “I was trying to reach that dude at the bar going through what I was going through,” Johnson says of the album.
• Even before Lonesome, Johnson was a force on the country music scene, co-writing the CMA Song of the Year-winning “Give It Away” for George Strait. Johnson also had a hand in penning Trace Atkins’ crossover hit “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” a song inspired by a drunk dancing girl with “60 pounds of butt meat.”
• Many songs on Lonesome chronicle Johnson’s divorce, an event that was so harrowing for the singer that he needed alcohol to dull the pain. “I thought, ‘Man, this is no way to live,’ so I spent over a year completely sober.” Instead of drinking, Johnson funneled his emotion into his music.
• Johnson is a storyteller, whether telling funny tales like the time he through a TV set out a hotel window or making your tear ducts swell when he discusses the time he passed out in his car, sweating out booze from all night binge. His songs skirt the same lines of emotion, with one track detailing an ex-girfriend who burned a guy’s clothes in the backyard and another about a cocaine-and-whore-filled bender.
Hear It Now: Johnson’s acclaimed That Lonesome Song is in stores now. Check out his video for “In Color” above.