A Simple Song
Label: Mercury Nashville
More energetic if no less downtrodden than its likewise RCA Studio A-recorded antecedent from earlier in 2017, the third solo set by mid-2010s country’s most acclaimed troubadour continues him down his gruff and dusty, blues-and-soul-flecked road. Titles like “Hard Livin’” (swamp-funked country chronicling the fate of a “rough and rowdy honky-tonk man”) and “Drunkard’s Prayer” (tipsily slurred by a guy who needs a bottle before he drops to his knees) chart the obligatory path; “Tryin’ to Untangle My Mind” blows money and makes wrong choices while downing more whiskey. The apocalyptic “Scarecrow in the Garden” (where Irish-American West Virginians push plows and read Revelations) and conversational “A Simple Song” (where a hard-luck guy with hard-luck kin accepts his lot in life) get more specific and familial. “Midnight Train to Memphis” boogies harder than the rest, and cordial closer “Friendship” choogles like the Band.