Cody Johnson is one of the biggest trial-blazers of the Texas country scene. Renowned for his heartfelt music, Johnson has gained a huge fanbase over the years which continues to expand. His last album ‘Ain’t Nothin’ to It’ reached #1 on the US country chart and later this month, a feature-length documentary, ‘Dear Rodeo: The Cody Johnson Story’, will showcase his success to date (exclusively available on Apple TV).
This is all impressive for a star with relatively limited radio success, but this is a testament to the power of Johnson’s writing and his down-to-earth mentality (Johnson was a bull-rider in his youth).
Johnson has now released his sophomore major-release album, ‘Human: The Double Album’. Continuing the 2021 trend of fantastic double feature albums, Johnson covers themes of celebration, cowboys and the adventure of life in this release that will please old and new fans alike.
Opening track ‘Human’ sets the tone for this beautiful collection. A song about learning life as you go, it’s a sublimely written track by Tony Lane and Travis Meadows, which Johnson delivers in his signature cowboy style. It’s a classic in waiting, which can be said for many on this record.
There are lots of these emotive acoustic-based tracks, stripping back Johnson’s sound. Another of the major standouts is ‘Made a Home’, penned by Johnson himself, along with Jesse Raub and Scott Sean White. A heart-breaking tale of loss, and the impact it can have on home comforts.
The acoustic cuts are terrific throughout, and ‘I Always Wanted To’ is another prime example of this. A desperate tale of regrets at the end of a long life, delivered with such passion from Johnson.
“Even pictures we never take
Memories we’ll never make still fade
I never did all I wanted to do
But I always wanted to”
However, there are several up-beat moments throughout, such as ‘Cowboy Scale Of 1 To 10’, which will no doubt be a go-to for many. It’s a lovely fusion of traditional bluegrass music and modern red dirt country, with huge mainstream appeal. It’s a bona fide dance number with a message that cowboys are worldwide, which will appeal to his adoring fan base.
Those that prefer a more edgy, rocky side to Johnson’s sound will have plenty to get their teeth into. ‘Honky Tonky Hardwood Floors’ is another rowdy dance number with plenty of guitars for good measure. Johnson’s cover of ‘Son of Ramblin’ Man’ is another song that follows in this vein.
Johnson hadn’t released many tracks in advance of this album, but the first single ‘Till You Can’t’ is a fine moment on the record that has already generated a huge buzz. Written by Ben Stennis and Matt Rogers, this one reminds us to live life to the max, as you never know when it’ll all be over.
“You just got too much on your plate to bait and cast a line
You can always put a rain check in his hand
‘Til you can’t”
Make no mistake, Cody Johnson has taken on a challenge by releasing a double album, but this mega project showcases him as one of the most talented and versatile artists in the genre. This will no doubt be one of the most acclaimed country albums of 2021, and rightly so. Here’s hoping that this album gets exposure beyond the critics, as it certainly deserves it.