Third Generation Only Son
Most times when a record comes through the mail slot, what it really entails is a collection of fairly recently written songs and maybe a cover or two that touched the composer’s heart and seemed to fit with the story he or she was trying to tell. So as a rule, what I wind up listening to really boils down to the last year or two in somebody’s life. Maybe it includes a nod to way back and the roots and memories that formed the writer, but still, even those were usually written not long ago and the reflection of who they are these days on their path to wherever they’re going is still pretty accurate.
None of that applies with Brad Good’s debut release. What’s here is a collection of stories put to song at widely varied points over the past two decades. Some of them were born when Good was a part of the nascent Red Dirt explosion in Stillwater. Back when Boland and McClure were just starting out. Brad was friends with, played with, worked with all of that crowd back then. Had the chops to stick with them, too, and be a part of it all.
Life happened, though, and as is so often the story, music went to the back burner for a while. A rather long while as it turned out. Good never put the guitar down completely, never stopped writing songs. But getting out and gigging, honing the craft in front of an audience and then after hours with peers? That stuff took a serious hiatus.
Now he’s back, and he’s released an album composed of some of the best of those songs written over the years. You’d think that means there’s no theme here, no easily defined sort of guardrails for a particular story the record might be intended to tell. But that’s not the case. The beating heart of Third Generation Only Son is the same heart that beats in every small town country boy who wants to get out and see the world on the other side of whatever hill is next. Good’s gift to us here is that while he climbed up some hills and fell down some others he managed to take notes with a songwriter’s heart and eye.
But we earned every last penny that we got
Them kids all drive them Chevrolets
Aww, what I’d give to be seventeen
We grow cotton and we raise Cain
We spend our Sundays praying for rain…
Those lines, from “Round Here,” the current radio single, set the stage for an awful lot of what’s at the core of Brad Good’s music. Penned all the way back in 2001, the song paints a picture of small town America, its passions, and its angst in a manner Johnny Cougar would be proud of. Good’s voice has a big helping of Mellencamp’s rawness, by the way, and couples it with that sort of haunting, evocative timbre that Mike McClure’s possesses. Not a combination I would have thought of or looked for, but one I’m thoroughly glad found its way into my world. There’s a power and an authenticity underlying each lyric that is mighty difficult to deny.
Good can do good-time goofball fun (“The Trip Song”) in a way that makes every road run you made with your buddies back in the day come springing back to life. And when he turns to more serious and introspective topics, he can display a literary sensibility not commonly found in song. You wouldn’t expect an Oklahoma boy to understand much about Mother Ocean, but as noted above, Brad observes with a songwriter’s heart. In “A Sailor’s Tale” perhaps the wanderlust isn’t that of the small town country boy. But its siren’s call strikes the same chords as an old sailor born of the bayou tells his tale in a seaside dive.
We sat there as time went marching into the waves on the coast
And into the sky went that old man’s eyes
All the widowed brides he did toast
Here’s to all of those that have fallen
Here’s to all of those that have died
Here’s to all of those that have not returned
Here’s to all of those that have cried
He said I’ve seen the world through a looking glass
And I’ve seen the fire in the sky
I have seen men make it past and I have seen men die
From the Southern Cross to the Northern Lights, and everywhere in between
These are the things that I have seen as I have sailed the seas….
Ultimately what’s here is a record with a satisfying, at times quite crunchy, full band sound that can rock and console as required by each song. All overlaid with the handiwork of an artist who is much more lyricist than simply a writer. Given the album’s genesis, frankly, it probably shouldn’t work. Go find somebody else who just penned some songs here and there for twenty years and didn’t do anything with them. At a minimum, you’d expect a huge disparity in maturity of the content. But that’s not at all how it plays out here. Themes both complex and simple are explored in thoughtful fashion, and every single song plays well wherever you queue it up.
It will be intriguing to see what else Good has in store. He’s back to performing on a regular basis these days, back into the life of a musician. Part of me wonders what would have been if life had not intruded and we were talking here about his tenth release rather than his first. My gut says we might be including his names with those of the greats from the early days of the Red Dirt road, and that it might be near impossible to catch him at a solo acoustic show somewhere. The rest of me is just glad that he’s back at it now. It’ll be interesting to see what Good has in the tank. For the moment, these songs from the past two decades have been newly recorded and expertly delivered. Each of them has a story to tell, and I think you’ll find that they strike some very deep chords within your breast. For now, that’s more than enough.
Find Brad on ReverbNation, where you can purchase some singles if the urge strikes. And pester him on Facebook to see where you can get a copy of the full CD.
Dave Pilot lives in north Texas with his first good wife (don’t ask about the other one), seven horses, and five dogs. When his wife’s not looking, he tries to figure out ways to feed the 987 or so cats to the coyotes out behind the fenceline. When he’s not trying to raise his kids to turn out better than he did, he’s hitting historical sites on his way to honky-tonks from Denton to Port Aransas. Visit Dave Pilot on Facebook.
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