BY ROGER SHARMAN
This past week has been graced with the release of Jamie Richards new long player, ‘The Real Deal’. This is the seventh studio album from the Oklahoma native, and it’s made up of twelve tracks, which include the duets, ‘Deep in Your Bones’ with David Ball and ‘Great Minds Drink Alike’, featuring another Texas legend, Tommy Alverson.
Now Jamie’s not new to this game, he’s been at it for many years now, and can be regarded as somewhat of a veteran, however, that’s not to say that he’s getting over the hill, and that he’s not at the peak of his powers, right now. Richards is the writer of many wonderful songs both for himself, and for other artists, including the likes of Hal Ketchum. Kenny Melons and Cody Jinks.
As a singer, Jamie is the owner of one of the most unique and instantly recognizable voices. There’s a natural gentleness to his voice, it’s really rather soothing, and has a remarkable range in tone and note in his voice. One thing that’s always struck me with Jamie is that he could sing almost at whispering volume, yet you’d still be able to identify those tones.
Another thing I really like with Jamie’s music is that he never tries to over sing a song, yet still manages to express emotion with consummate ease. Additionally, to achieve the longevity that Jamie’s achieved, can only be manufactured out of a great talent that’s been nurtured with thousands of hours of hard work. In that respect, nobody can argue that Jamie has paid his dues.
I’ve often wondered why Jamie hasn’t been more successful, to date, at least. I’m pretty sure that if Nashville were in Texas then Jamie would be a Hall of Famer by now. He’s a legend down there, everything he releases seems to go to number one in Texas, that will give you some idea of what you are dealing with here, if you didn’t already know, the Real Deal indeed!
The album kicks off with ‘Stones in the Road’, a track which you could say is very much in the Jamie Richards mold of song. It is straight up Texas style Country, just the way it should be in my opinion. The fiddle and Jamie’s voice working the song and working in perfect harmony and that’s a recurring theme throughout this record.
‘I Want to With You’ is next up and it’s currently sitting proudly at the top of the Texas Country Charts, even though it’s been out as a single for quite some time now. It’s a honky tonk love song, that will have the dancefloors filling up when this current time we are in is gone.Seein’ Me Like This’ serves Jamie the perfect ground to showcase that voice, this is the kind of song I think suits Jamie’s vocals the best, the slow sad songs. This song was co-written by Bryan Martin, who also shares writing credit for ‘Someone Else’s Trouble Now’.
‘Playin’ Hard to Forget’ once again is the sort of track that has been Jamie’s bread and butter for years now. It’s a cracking song, with Richard’s voice being a lyrical paint brush. I like the clever play on words in the title, just like he does on ‘Great Minds Drink Alike’.
The first single released back in the summer of 2019 features next, ‘Whiskey’s Working Well’ and I’ve loved this since the first time I heard it, the intro is quite simply stunning in its beauty. Jamie’s voice really takes on the form of an extra instrument, this is about as Country as Country can get, well to my palette at least.
The first time I Heard ‘Someone Else’s Trouble Now’ two things spung to mind immediately, firstly this is Jamie’s ‘Pancho and Lefty’, I’m sure you’ll notice the similarities. The second thing that struck me was that at times during the song, Jamie sounds distinctly Hispanic, which then leads me to see if I can recall Jamie ever singing in Spanish, and I can’t to be honest. I know we’ve had songs ‘Cold in Mexico’ and ‘One Tequila’ but I really can’t recall hm singing in Spanish. Judging by this song, Jamie would sing equally as beautifully in Spanish as in English.
My favourite song on the album is number seven ‘Great Minds Drink Alike’. Jamie’s joined on this track by Tommy Alverson. I had the pleasure of hanging out with Tommy and his family one afternoon at the Longhorn, back in 2018, for the Cooper Max Foundation Charity event, and what a warm and wonderful character he is too, I can’t speak highly enough of the man, he is a true gentleman and possesses the kind of talent that most people can only dream of, so it is rather fitting that they should record something together.
The thing that really strikes me with ‘Lakeview Grocery Store’ is the quality of the storytelling. The lyrics create such vivid images that it feels like I’m transported right to the very scene of the song. However, this really should be no surprise when you are joined by another of the great writers in Texas, and long-time friend of Jamie’s, another legend, Walt Wilkins. Musically it has beauty running through its veins from the very first note, and the harmonizing is equally sumptuous.
‘Loose Loud and Crazy’ is a song that was co-written with Kevin Fowler and Bart Butler, and it appeared on Fowler’s ‘Loose, Loud and Crazy’ album. It’s a floor-filling honky tonker that will have couples making their way to the dancefloors hastily. It’s the kind of song that is impossible to sit still to, and right now this song transports me to right where I want to be, in some honky tonk in Texas, with a bucket of ice-cold beer, having fun with friends.
‘When You Were Lovin’ Me’ and ‘Deep in your Bones’ are both very much in the classic country mold. Both contain those wonderful harmonies that have been a prominent feature of this record and indeed throughout Richards career.
Finishing off the album is a real fun song ‘Twang’ that I absolutely adore, I love the outlaw sound that the band has gone for, the guitar and pedal steel are to die for on this track. Honestly its one of those songs that you just can’t help but smile at.
In my opinion this is the first great country record of the year and perhaps Jamie Richards finest moment to date, a record that should certainly see that he receives more attention outside of Texas than he has received in the past, and definitely more attention from listeners in the United Kingdom. He’s certainly earned it and thoroughly deserves it.