Truth Be Told
Classy and Unapologetic 21st Century Country Music
Thankfully I’ve not had much time recently for actually putting pen to paper; which has actually allowed me to listen a bit closer to a couple of new and too some intent; ‘challenging’ albums …. and this is one of them …. and a very Special Release it is, in many ways.
That ‘extra time’ has possibly been essential here; as Tommy Atkins is Proudly Gay; and these songs not just reflect that; but are defiantly so in tone, texture and content; so much so I had to rewrite much of what will follow after reading the CD’s accompanying booklet.
In my defence I couldn’t care less what any musician’s race, creed, religion or indeed sexuality is …… as long as the music is good; I’m there.
In this instance after a couple of years of ‘will he/won’t he’ Geordie Lad,Tommy Atkins has pulled the best of his songs together and released them to reflect his very own life; and while listeners like myself will find several to be ambiguous in content; Tommy throws his Stetson down with the stunningly gorgeous Kiss Me Cowboy which opens the album like he’s been having #1 Hits all his life.
While there’s obviously a clue in the title I obviously missed ‘that’ the first couple of times I played it; just wallowing in the luscious Countryfried production and Atkins’ wonderful voice and beautiful story; until eventually the chorus ‘clicked’ and I found myself going “Oh!”
But; why can’t this be a boy/boy love story?
It’s not as if it doesn’t happen!
OK, just like It Took a Woman; my first instincts were that both songs should be edited to be boy/girl romances; just like so many Music Biz types had been telling Tommy for years ….. but, hey man …… it’s 20 bloody 21 …… the best music comes from not just your heart but your own experiences; and Tommy Atkins gives us both with aplomb and sheer class.
As he says in the accompanying booklet, he started songwriting as a teenager in NE England, then moved to Nashville where he worked as a songwriter for a few years; and he’s now a happily married 30 year old flitting seamlessly between the two musical hotbeds; and these sharply observed songs and stories chart all of the adventures a boy (or girl) has in those crazy and fun filled in-between years.
Speaking of ‘fun filled’ Atkins really gets to the heart of the matter with Cinderella’s Had a Drink and Time of The Month; both are Friday Night Yeehaw Friday Night tales; that will have many of us remembering what it was like trying to have a ‘good time’ during the three weeks leading up to payday, every month; and in the former …… hahahahaha ……. I’m not naming names, but it could easily be about someone very very close to me (in her younger days).
There is just so much to like here; primarily as this is the unapologetic Country Music they say ain’t made anymore …… check out Met The Man (featuring John Drake Hollier); here Atkins wears his influences not just on his sleeve but in the way he delivers his song; not caring two hoots if you think it’s cool or not …… this is the music he believes in 100% and damn the consequences.
Speaking of influences; it took me three plays to actually recognise the second track; Freedom; yup …. it’s the George Michael classico; but now turned into sadder than sad Country heartbreaker which will reduce even the hardest of hearts to absolute mush; and not for the first or last time here, features the divine fiddle playing of Michael Cleveland and pedal-steel from Smith Curry too.
Kiss Me Cowboy is an obvious single and has been a Hit on several charts; but I’m going Left of Centre for my actual Favourite; possibly a case of ‘right place/right time’ for me; as Stuck Behind a Tractor is an astonishing metaphor for looking at your life and needing to slow down; whether you know it or not. In another universe I can actually imagine Ashley McBryde or even Keith Urban having a humongous Hit with it in exactly the same format; but in my perfect world it will be just as humungous a Hit for young Mr Atkins.
The album comes to a rather beautiful close with Wild in The Wind, when the elder singer looks back on a first love with Atkins showing a way with words that the suits on Music Row will surely regret ‘getting away!’
#It appears Tommy Atkins was actually already a ‘follower’ of RMHQ on the Twitter long before a mutual friend; The Geordie Cowboy mentioned his name to me and I checked him out ….. I really wish that I was better at Social Media!
Released August 2021
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