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Album Review: Cody Johnson – Ain’t Nothin’ To It

Artist: Cody Johnson

Album: Ain’t Nothin’ To It

Year: 2019

Label: CoJo Music/Warner Music Nashville

Genre: Texas Country

Aaaaand, we’re back! Cody Johnson’s full-length album dropped last Friday and we haven’t stopped listening to it yet. While the five-song EP was fantastic, the fifteen-track album totally surpasses it. Records like Ain’t Nothin’ To It make my heart sing. It’s got story songs, life lessons, love songs, and honky tonkers. That’s what country music is all about and Johnson has nailed it in a very country, yet very modern way. It’s the idyllic modern, yet traditional country album and it’s bound to appeal to a lot of folks out there. Specifically, the younger generation–my generation, the twenty-somethings and the adolescents.

Johnson has been on the scene since 2006, so this ain’t his first rodeo. Literally, Johnson is a former bull rider and with “Dear Rodeo,” the thirteenth track on the record, you’ll hear about the back and forth struggle that many rodeo cowboys face. Ain’t Nothin’ To It is, however, his first release with a major label. Signing with Warner in June, he has six previous albums that were released independently through his own label, CoJo Music. Clearly, he must’ve been doing something right for the past thirteen years. Bless you, Warner for putting this man and his music out there for those of us geographically disconnected from the Texas music scene.

Fiddle and steel alert! “Ain’t Nothin’ To It” is the title track of the album and with good reason. For this Texas Country veteran, there sure ain’t nothin’ to it when it comes to making country music. Easy as pecan pie, y’all! Pecan pie is a southern thing, right? Also, total sidenote: Y’all Americans pronounce “pecan” funny.

“Ain’t Nothin’ To It” along quite a few songs on this album including “Noise,” “Understand Why,” and “On My Way to You” are what I like to call “country songs that matter.” You know, the songs that teach you those important life lessons. Songs like Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Blink,” Trace Adkins’ “You’re Gonna Miss This,” Rodney Atkins “Watching You,” Billy Currington “People Are Crazy,” George Jones’ “Choices,” and Chris Young’s “Voices” to name a few.

“Noise” is the second song on the album and it’s so beautiful because it’s so startlingly genuine. When you’re in love, everything else is just noise. The 80s/90s “Two Dozen Roses” hitmaker, Shenandoah, also recorded and released “Noise” for their 2018 Reloaded album. While the 90s kid in me really wants to favour their version, I certainly do fancy Johnson’s as well. It’s just that much more touching coming from a younger, fresher– and newer, in my case up here in the Great White North–artist. I’ve been so used to those female degrading, party songs of the “bro-country” era that this type of maturity and respect in a number is a welcomed shock to my system. Do give both versions of the “Noise” a listen when you get the chance, they’re both incredible in their own right.

I talked about “Fenceposts” in the Ain’t Nothin’ To It EP review three weeks ago, and I really want to reiterate just how great it is. It’s a simple song and though it’s brand-spankin’ new, it brings me back to the early 2000s country where my personal tastes in country music originated. Listen to “Understand Why” and you’ll understand why it’s so moving. That’s kind of the theme here with this album, I’ve come to find.

There are two covers on this album, the first being Charlie Daniels Band’s “Long Haired Country Boy (feat. The Rockin’ CJB).” Johnson has said that this is his guilty pleasure song with it being one of his favourites. It was an absolute bop when Charlie Daniels did it, and it’s a definite bop in Johnson’s capable hands. The second cover on this album happens to be one of my favourite Brooks & Dunn songs, but did you know that it was written by one of Lula 1892’s favourite artists, Roger Miller? Well, you do now!

Randy Houser gave me one of them sexy songs that I love so much on his new album, Magnolia, with “Nothin On You,” and Cody Johnson has given me another with, funnily enough, a song of the same name. These types of songs are the reason I’m gonna die old and alone. Y’all set the bar too high. Ain’t nobody that smooth in real life.

I had assumed that “Monday Morning Merle” would have remained my favourite song, however, the EP was just a tiny nibble of the entire project and now that I’ve heard the whole thing, I can’t really say I have one single favourite song. I like the entire album as a whole. Each song feeds off the others. Take “Y’all People” for instance. It’s an incredibly classy move to record a song and dedicate it to your fanbase. You can’t really make it in this business without them and thanking them this way, with a song, is something they’ll always cherish. I tip my hat to you, Mr. Johnson. Juxtaposing “Y’all People” in the most perfect way is “Doubt Me Now.” This song is thicc, son. Two C’s. Thanking your haters for your success is the absolute top level of pettiness and I’m beyond here for it. Incredible.

Now, no country album would be complete without a song about Jesus. “His Name Is Jesus” was penned by Johnson and is an absolutely astounding live bonus song. It’s very hymnal, with perfect three-part harmony and simple production. I will admit, though I’m not particularly religious, I do have a very profound appreciation for this song. I’d even go so far as to say that it might be my favourite on the entire album if I had to pick. It’s reminiscent of traditional country gospel in both lyric and production.

Well, I don’t know what else to say, folks. Ain’t Nothin’ To It is simply awesome. It’s a record that country music needed from an artist who deserves every single bit of recognition coming his way. Thank you for the music, Cody.

Favourite songs: Ain’t Nothin’ To It, Fenceposts, Nothin’ on You, Monday Morning Merle, Y’all People, His Name Is Jesus.

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