Artist: Ags Connolly
Album: Nothin’ Unexpected
Label: At The Helm Records
Genre: Traditional Country
Another Thursday, another album review! Sharing my favourite music finds is the best part of my job. This week I’ve got one for you that, given the name of the album, is quite ironic. Ags Connolly’s Nothin’ Unexpected is actually very unexpected. Having stumbled upon it like I do most albums–through Spotify–I was completely taken off guard to find that Connolly hails from Oxfordshire, England with just how thick the country twang came through in his vocals given his geographical upbringing. That’s not all that’s unexpected about Nothin’ Unexpected though. Like myself, if this is the first album of Connolly’s you’re hearing, what you’ll find is something so traditional country in production that it might just bring a tear to your eye.
Nothin’ Unexpected, released in February of 2017 with At The Helm Records in the UK, is Connolly’s second studio album which follows three years after the release of his debut album How About Now. “I Hope You’re Unhappy,” the first track on the record was the song that introduced me to Connolly and I found quite quickly that I really liked what I heard. The further through the album I got, the fonder of Connolly I became. Being initially drawn to the honky-tonk shuffles such as “I Hope You’re Unhappy,” “Neon Jail,” and “Haunts Like This,” I found myself tapping my feet and finding the melodies stuck in my head for days on end. However, upon a more thorough listen in a more gentle frame of mind I found myself more drawn to the slow ballads with their powerful lyrics, “When The Loner Gets Lonely,” I Suppose,” and “Fifteen Years” to name a few without giving away the entire album.
On his website, you’ll find that Connolly had been writing songs for years, but found the confidence to really take writing seriously after sitting in on a workshop with Nashville musician Darrell Scott (Dixie Chicks’ “Long Time Gone,” Travis Tritt’s “It’s A Great Day To Be Alive,” Sara Evans’ “Born To Fly”). It seems Connolly has really found his voice since attending the songwriter’s workshop and he has ten great songs on this record to show for it. Connolly has also headlined shows across the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States, and has even opened for Rosanne Cash. With influences like David Allan Coe, Johnny Paycheck, Guy Clark, and Dale Watson, you can be sure that Ags Connolly really is traditional country.