A couple days ago, I received an intriguing Facebook message from a friend of mine.
"Have you heard this new Josh Abbott song?!"
I replied to my friend, a fellow music journalist, that I hadn't yet heard it, though I had seen a press release in my email inbox announcing that the Josh Abbott Band released a new song in conjunction with the announcement of its upcoming record.
"It is such a mess," my friend replied.
Obviously, I had to stop what I was doing and check it out right then and there. If there's anything better than hearing a killer new song, it's pushing play on a three-minute dumpster fire of a single. I admit I was a bit bummed, though. The band's last record, 2015's Front Row Seat, was a fine step forward in just about every way for the group and I had hoped his next album would only build on the growth the last one displayed.
As it so happens, the song is fantastic.
"Texas Women, Tennessee Whiskey," the first single from Josh Abbott Band's upcoming album Until My Voice Goes Out, isn't only another step ahead for Abbott, but it's a bold and unique move few would expect from any of the biggest commercial stars of the Texas country universe.
"Just gonna say this: there are horns," was another part of my friend's warning message, but to me, the way in which the rowdy tune busts out of the gate with brassy horns is one of the key elements that makes it work so well. In all fairness, my friend did admit to liking the horn-heavy first 20 seconds.
At first, I caught myself giving the song, and the band, perhaps too much credit for simply being different. When it comes to the songs that often reach the top of the various (and highly questionable) regional radio charts, horns -- or anything remotely unique -- aren't something you'll hear often. No asterisks or qualifiers are needed to justify this song's credentials.
According to the press release announcing the song and album, the band solicited help from Rob Mathes, who has arranged music for Tony Bennett and Sting, among others, to usher in the horn invasion. This song isn't the sign of an artist switching auto-pilot on as he sails his way to yet another Texas chart-topper.
Hell, even his voice is bigger and stronger than in the past, as far as my ears can tell. The way in which he recklessly belts out the words is another signal of high confidence from the new father. Singing about "Texas Women and Tennessee Whiskey" isn't anything new of course, but covering that terrain with an entertaining authority is always welcome.
I get why some people, like my friend, may hear this song and scratch their heads a bit in efforts to figure out what's going on. And in the past, such eccentricity might be enough to garner a bit of praise, but such explanation is far from necessary. Plain and simple: this is just a good bit of country hell-raising fun.
Josh Abbott Band's new album, Until My Voice Goes Out will be released on August 18.