680I thought I knew what to expect from William Michael Morgan’s new album, “Vinyl”. I saw this young man on stage a little more than two weeks ago.  He sang a few of the songs from the new album for the audience.  The crowd reaction was more than enthusiastic.  The sampling left me wanting to hear more. Today, that eagerness to hear more became a reality. I listened from song number one to song number 11, with no interruptions and a lot of memories.  And, while I thought I knew what to expect from the new album, it was nice to find more than a few pleasant surprises, in with what I already knew would make for some great listening.

The songs on this album did for me what I believe traditional country music does for everyone. They are songs that could have been written for any of us.  They are songs about situations that could have easily been part of all of our lives.  In several cases, they were stories that were so much a part of my past, that I found myself saying things like, “that’s how my brother is”, “my Dad said the same things to me,” or “I think that songwriter and I shared the same kind of broken-heart experience”.  I will tell you about a few of these songs a little farther down, and you’ll get a better understanding of what I’m talking about.

Eleven songs, and in my opinion, 11 radio-ready hits.  I remember leaving the fairgrounds that night, hoping that the title track, would be his next single.  After listening to the album, I’ve changed my mind about that.  But, I don’t really know which one I’d like for him to release to radio next. When you have a debut single like ‘I Met A Girl”, you need to follow that with something just as awesome. There are some songs on the album that it might take radio listeners a little longer to warm up to. But there is absolutely nothing about this album that listeners won’t like! Generally speaking, this whole album is as close to our George Strait, Alan Jackson, 80’s-90’s country music (or even earlier) as you can get, and still be music that fits in to today’s ‘top 40 country radio’ format. Let me tell you a little about what you are going to hear when you add this album to your country music collection.

There are no unfamiliar names on the list of songwriters who contributed to this album.  With writers like Kellley Lovelace, Rhett Akins, Greg Bates, Kevin Denney and Shane McAnally all taking part, it is really not shocking that every song is destined to become a favorite for someone.  I was glad to see William Michael had his name on a few of the songs, including “Backseat Driver,” one of my favorites.  All of the writers have been listed in the track list below. The album was produced by Jimmy Ritchey and Scott Hendricks. Recorded by Jeff Balding at Ocean Way Studios. Assisted by Matt Coles. Additional recording by Scott Hendricks and Clarke Schleicher at The Warner Bros. Studio, Tim Roberts at Fox Ridge Recording Studio and Wes Hightower at Highland Park Sound. Digital Editing by Scott Hendricks, Brian David Willis and Wes Hightower. Mixed by Justin Niebank at Hounds Ear Studio and Blackbird Studios. Assisted by Drew Bollman. Mastered by Andrew Mendelson at Georgetown Masters. Production Assistance by Scott Johnson.

You already know I’m a big fan of the album, but I want to pick out a few songs and let you know why they really hit home with me. And really, why they are probably going to be easy for every country music fan to identify with. I have to start with “I Know Who He Is”. Anyone who listens to it will find out quickly that this is a very emotional song. For anyone listening who has lost their Dad, or watched while their Dad struggled with growing old, it might even be a sad song.  It is definitely a song that brings back a lot of memories. While the song had a way of bringing out a world of emotion in me, it was good to bring back a lot of those memories.  A beautiful song, an all-too-familiar story, and a wonderful performance by William Michael.

While we are on the subject of Dads, listen to “Backseat Driver”.  It’s Dad’s advice when sending their son or daughter away – to school, or to a career, or to a new life somewhere. This is how Dad’s always say good-bye…. with a lot of advice.  With something you can take with you, and with words you are going to remember even 55 years after you left home.  Your Dad may not have told you he couldn’t be your backseat driver anymore, but I bet he told you to keep an eye on the gas tank, roll your windows down at night so the cool air will help keep you awake (at least that was my Dad’s reasoning), watch your speed, slow down when you see a breath-taking view… good advice, set to music.  I loved the melody and the lyric on this one.

“Beer Drinker” pretty much describes a few people in my family.  My brother is one hard-working man.  My Dad was another.  My Dad worked more than 40 hours a week clear up until the day he died.  He was plumber.  He also owned his own trash pick-up business.  I suppose you could say I came from pretty humble roots.  But, that man not only worked 40 hours a week (usually more), he also built our house, one board at a time, and he put a swimming pool in our back yard, hand mixing the concrete, and laying all of the concrete block for the pool walls.  My brother is a former Marie, he spent time in Vietnam, he worked as a mechanic, he is well past retirement age, but still working.  And, you want to know the one thing I remember most when I think about my late father, or my brother.  That one thing is that I can’t really ever remember a time when either of these men didn’t have a beer in their hand. So, if anyone out there needs to “(Thank A) Beer Drinker” – it would be me.  I like this song a lot  I guess I have my reasons. I really think all of you are gong to like it, too.  Very catchy melody, great ‘sing along with me’ lyrics…. and a good story!

While the whole idea behind “Lonesomeville” took me back to Joe Nichols’ “Brokenheartsville”, the song was more George Strait. I could almost see George on stage with his beaded guitar strap and his cowboy hat singing this song to his audience full of screaming fans.  And, I would say being compared to George Strait is not exactly a bad thing.  This song, too, was one that a lot of us can get caught up in.  Because anyone over 13 has probably had a broken heart at one time or another.  And this is just how you feel.  Like you’re all alone.  And, maybe even like you want to be. These are great lyrics…. “It’s always raining and the sun don’t shine, when you live on solitary drive, it’s a small community, population me, here in Lonesomeville.”

He has another one on the album that my made me think about George Strait – that one is “Cheap Cologne”.  William Michael sang this one for us in Abingdon, Va., when we saw him a few weeks ago.  I remember when I heard it there, I turned to my husband and said, “I’m glad he got this song, George Strait could have had it”.  It’s country – it’s a story – an all-too-familiar story for country songwriters, but it’s a good story.  You know the kind, guy has girl, girl apparently has someone else, she comes home, she smells like cigarettes and she doesn’t smell like his cologne…. because “she don’t smoke cigarettes, and I don’t wear cheap cologne.”


Vinyl Track List with songwriters:
People Like Me (Kelley Lovelace, Lee Thomas Miller)
Vinyl (Wade Kirby, Ashley Gorley, Carson Chamberlain)
Missing (Rhett Akins, Marv Green)
I Met A Girl (Trevor Rosen, Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally)
spend It All on You (Jimmy Ritchey, Greg Bates, Jon Mabe)
Beer Drinker (Wynn Varble, David Lee, Don Poythress)
I Know Who He Is (Casey Beathard)
Cheap Cologne (Jimmy Ritchey, Kevin Denney, Odie Blackmon)
Something to Drink About (William Michael Morgan, Phil O’Donnell, Wade Kirby)
Lonesomeville (William Michael Morgan, Mark Sherrill, Ashe Underwood, Trent Tomlinson)
Back Street Driver (Robert Counts, Nicolette Hayford, Matt Willis)

Everyone who really enjoys real country music has been saying that our younger artists like William Michael Morgan are the best chance we have of taking our country music back to what it was.  I’ve been saying that about William Michael Morgan since April 13, 2010. It was then, that this teenager in a cowboy hat found me on Twitter and directed me to his MySpace page to listen to his music. I listened to his music then, and I smiled.  I listen to his music now, and the smile is even bigger.   I love that William Michael Morgan enjoys country music, and that he is sticking to what he likes to sing.  Has my evaluation of William Michael Morgan’s music changed over the past six-and-a-half years?  Not really.  If anything, my love for his music has grown right along with his maturity and growth as a country artist.  I did write an article to introduce our readers to him, way back then.  It included a bit of a review of a few songs, from an unknown teen in Mississippi, that were posted on a MySpace page.  And, way back then, I knew this was a singer who would be adding a lot more fans to that ever-growing fan base over the years. [If you have a minute, you can go back and read that article from six years ago  by clicking here).

IMG_6720In addition to his website, visit his other social media pages: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram.  If you aren’t already following Country’s Chatter on Twitter, we’d love to have you.  You will find us @countryschatter.

VINYL which is produced by award-winning Scott Hendricks and Jimmy Ritchey, includes 11 songs and is available tomorrow at: iTunes: http://smarturl.it/vinylwmm, Google Play: http://smarturl.it/vinylwmm_gp, and Spotify: http://smarturl.it/vinylwmm_sp.

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I thought I knew what to expect from William Michael Morgan’s new album, “Vinyl”. I saw this young man on stage a little more than two weeks ago.  He sang a few of the songs from the new album for the audience.  The crowd reaction was more than enthusiastic. ...