11 anthemic tracks, co-written and produced by three boyhood friends, with one hell of an unquestionable, authentic southern sound… this record is going to leave a Legacy alright!
There is no voice in Country Music quite like that of TC3 frontman Jaren Johnston. Whiskey soaked, traditional and Tennessee born and raised. That slow, Southern drawl, mixed with Kelby Ray’s lap steel guitar and Neil Masons’ percussion prowess has made for, what I’m going to be so bold as to say, their best work to date.
There are a couple tracks on the album that have been written with others. ‘Legacy’ was written by Johnston alongside Ben Burgess and Laura Veltz and was not originally going to be kept by the band, until Neil heard the track at a local songwriters round. ‘American Slang’ was co-written by Jaren, Neil and Lori McKenna – who also appears on the album with soft, smooth vocals featured in ‘Love Me Like Liquor’.
Having been a huge fan of the TC3 from the beginning, it has never been hard for me to say that they come out with hit after hit, but they have not received the radio play or recognition that they deserve… Yet.
‘I’m Rockin’ from the 2014 debut album ‘Tennessee Mojo’, got me hook line and sinker. Pure fast-paced Southern Country rock, it had me dancing around my room like an absolute loon. The whole album was an absolute banger and to follow it with ‘Bury Me In My Boots’ in 2016 with a ballad like ‘White Lightening’ (written about Jaren’s beautiful wife Evyn) and foot stomping goodness in the form of ‘Slide’ and ‘Party Like You’, it made waiting for their next album (or new music at least)… nearly impossible!
That said, ‘Legacy’ was most definitely worth waiting for!!!!
Breaking in with that Southern groove we have come to know and love so much, ‘Cadillacin’ opens the project. With a sound reminiscent of ZZ Top and lyrics that take you on the ride, I close my eyes and I can feel the Nashville sun on my face and the wind in my hair, all I need is my trucker cap and a cold one in my hand.
“If you’re gonna roll,
Roll in a Cadillac…
Going through to hood, looking damn good..
If you aren’t rolling your shoulders and sliding around listening to this, then there is something seriously wrong with you!
Sticking with the ZZ Top infusion, we move on to ‘Tennessee’. Driving home to his girl after time on the road, Johnston sings about listening to Sturgill on Vinyl, drinking whiskey and coming back to the things he has missed while he has been away.
“Get out the whiskey girl and put that black dress on
I’m coming home to Tennessee…”
“I need to feel, need to hold, need to hear
Something real tonight like, sweet Southern sounds
I been missin’ on, kissin’ on ya, listening to songs all night long
Lost tonight, baby I’m found”
‘Demolition Man’ is a super catchy little jam, with Super Mario sounds and the coolest video – go check it out! Simple but powerful lyrics, lap steel sliding, a nicely placed heavy guitar chug on the bridge, perfect reverb on the ooh ahh’s and soulful harmonies… it doesn’t really get better.
Girl I know its late
Babe I just couldn’t wait”
That unmistakable drawl that can only be referred to as ‘The Jaren’ opens this little belter and I’m hooked…
“This heavy heart is pounding like a hammer in my hand,
Oh come on baby
Let me be your demolition man”
Lyrical imagery at its finest, no tricks, over production or fancy sh** required.
Now let’s shake it up a bit. if you’re a Rolling Stones fan, you will get where I’m going with this next statement… ‘HANK AND JESUS’
Hank. And. Jesus!
“Thank Daddy for Hank
Thank Momma for Jesus..
Between the vinyl and the Bible
It was everything ever needed”
Of the whole album, this is my favourite track for percussion! Neil, you magician! We have a very ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ Stones sound coming through in this one and its refreshingly mega! Slowed down, Country’d up and kept mainly to emphasise the chorus, it’s not something that I saw coming, but I LOVE it!!
“I took a little bit of Hell
and set my eyes on heaven
A touch of King James
and a touch of King Elvis”
Another lyrically simplistic song, full of life’s truth for these boys… all they need is the music and Jesus. A true Southern Boy trait, to have their faith about them, but still not missing their musical education and a drink of the good whiskey…
“It was six strings on a Saturday night
Sunday Morning seeing the light”
As much as I love the Cadillac’s faster paced, foot stomping ‘hell yeah’ tracks, my favourite on this project has to be ‘Take Me To The Bottom’.
“Your love, is like that Mississippi River
Your hands like a Preacher,
Baby I’m a new believer
Hold me down down down down down
Fill me up girl, let me drown
If you want my heart, if you want my soul
Take me to the bottom”
A smooth, sensual ballad about that drowning feeling we experience when we fall in love. We can’t get enough, we want it all. Everything that that other person has to offer, they pull us in and we don’t want to ever surface.
This is a track, much like ‘Legacy’, that pulls on the heartstrings and takes you somewhere so personal. Pure genius.
“How did I catch your brown eyes?
How did I get your heart beating with mine?
Something I never quite understood
Girl I musta tricked you good
Or musta done somethin’ in another life…Right”
‘Legacy’ is by far the most beautiful song I have ever heard. I couldn’t imagine anyone but Jaren Johnston singing this.
“When I’m gone, my name carved in stone
And that dash between the years is all that I left here
It wont be songs, or stages I sang on
Girl as Hall of Fame as I wanna be
A lifetime of you lovin’ me
Hell that’s a Legacy”
Jaren has been known to write beautiful songs inspired by his wife, but this is phenomenal.
Stripping it right back, taking the lyrics and the meaning of the song to a whole different, so much more personal level, ‘Legacy’ is a song that will be a timeless classic.
The song not only reflects his marriage to Evyn and their little Jude dude, it is a reflection of the whole band and their lives as they are moving forward. The song shows a softer, more vulnerable side to the guys, away from their kick ass Southern Rock roots.
I could talk all day about this absolute masterpiece and I would still not do it the justice it deserves. Jaren, Neil and Kelby have all far outdone themselves here. An album filled with hometown pride, love and something that they have created not through just being a band, something that is only forged through a lifetime of friendship and brotherhood.
This autobiographical album of smash after smash, may not be as commercially welcomed as it should be, but this is the kind of ‘real’ Country music that we need in the industry right now! Southern rock, Country soul, filled with ‘Long Hair Don’t Care’ swagger… and I for one love you guys for it!
And I know I’m not the only one…
“THE CADILLAC THREE HAVE LAUNCHED A MOVEMENT IN COUNTRY MUSIC, FORGING A BOND WITH FANS BOTH IN THE U.S. AND OVERSEAS IN A WAY NOT SEEN SINCE GARTH BROOKS. BORN AND RAISED IN NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, THE TRIO OF SINGER-GUITARIST JAREN JOHNSTON, LAP-STEEL PLAYER KELBY RAY AND DRUMMER NEIL MASON ARE BROTHERS IN “HELL YEAH!” SPIRIT AND IN MUSIC. THEY ARE EFFORTLESSLY COOL, AS REAL AS THEY COME AND ARGUABLY THE MOST VITAL ADDITION TO THE COUNTRY-MUSIC LANDSCAPE THIS DECADE.” (Reported by Download Fest 2017, where the TC3 appeared for a 10 song set on the Main Stage ahead of Aerosmith)
I couldn’t have put it better myself…
They clearly know what works for their unmistakable sound, that is unlike any other out there.
I cant ever say that these guys ‘better’ themselves as they move forward, but what I will say is that they evolve and bring their music with them. As a fan, that is all that we really want. We want to see artists grow and grow with them. The Cadillac Three are a band that will continue to grow, album after album and I for one cannot wait to see what the future holds for them!
See you in November boys!