I had someone remark the other day that I had not yet reviewed VanZant’s second album. Being the smart ass I can be at times, I informed him that this is actually the fourth CD from brothers Donnie and Johnny Van Zant. They turned out a couple of decidedly more rock and roll albums on the CMC International label a few years ago, but that was before they were signed to the mac-daddy of all corporate record labels at Sony. Before they went “country.”
The only reason I had not yet reviewed My Kind of Country is a simple one. I never received a copy. That all changed last week, and I must say, I have really been enjoying the release.
Today’s country has as much Southern Rock woven into it’s layers as country. Of course, being Van Zants, they certainly come by it honestly. The title track is as all-American as it gets, with an infectious country rock melody that even gives a shout out to both of their bands, Lynyrd Skynyrd and 38 Special. It’s a rocking tune.
“These Colors Don’t Run” picks up where Skynyrd’s “Red White and Blue” left off, and Tom Hambridge’s “Goes Down Easy” is just outstanding. Of course, after seeing Hambridge live down in Georgia I became a die hard fan of his writing. The guy is good, fellow babies.
“The Hardest Thing” is another outstanding track that would not be out of place on a Bruce Springsteen “working man blue collar Nebraska type” album. And “That Scares Me” has some thought provoking lyrics to be sure. It’s a mature ballad about a man coming of age confessing his fears of fatherhood.
The Van Zant’s really have their collective finger on the pulse of that "good ol’ Southern boy country" thing. Singing about drinking and partying is balanced out with thoughts of family, the USA and God (“We Can’t Do it Alone.”) And “Friend” is a true testimony to true friends. Another good one.
“Headed South” is a great new take on the life of a traveling musician, and a great way to wrap up the record.
It seems the brothers get a lot of flack from the Southern Rock fans over their country music, but as far as I am concerned, this is some of their best work. A remarkable album from some true Southern Rock royalty.
-Michael Buffalo Smith