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Album Review: Mo Pitney – Behind This Guitar

Artist: Mo Pitney

Album: Behind This Guitar

Year: 2016

Label: Curb Records

Genre: Neo-Traditional Country

Would you ever hitch a ride to Music City
Just to see an Opry show?
Would you drive across the country,
Just to listen to some country?

As a graduate fresh outta high school, I didn’t know much, but I knew damn well that that was a country song if I’d ever heard one. Who was that guy? Did he have an album? Where did he come from? Well, folks, that guy, at the time, was twenty-two year old Mo Pitney from Rockford, Illinois and “Country” was his first single.

I had long since given up on country radio by the time I’d graduated, so it took me completely off guard to hear a voice so reminiscent of the late Keith Whitley coming through the local airwaves in the form of a picture-perfect country song. This was an artist I was not going to let slip through my fingers. I Shazamed that sucker so fast and hurried on home to scour the internet for everything and anything Mo Pitney. I found myself watching the legends I loved so much with beaming smiles of hope and pride across their faces as they listened to him croon out a dedicate cover of Mel Street’s “Borrowed Angel” on the CFR Honky Tonk Series, and I ended up on a casual cover of “Rose Colored Glasses.” Tears rolled down my cheeks when I found a video of him singing Keith Whitley’s “Don’t Close Your Eyes.” You can’t just sing a girl’s favourite song, by one of her favourite musicians, and expect her not to fall in love with you. That’s all askin’ just a little too much here from me, Mr. Pitney.

The day I had found him was the day I knew I’d become a lifelong fan. Playing the waiting game for his debut album, however, was something I thought would damn near kill me. Behind This Guitar has been on my list of albums to review since Lula first brought me on board, but I’ve been biding my time waiting for the perfect moment. Today’s the day I finally review the album that saved little ol’ Morgan from giving up hope on country music.

I’ve tried to find an artist to compare Pitney to stylistically, but it just doesn’t seem right. His music is certainly nostalgic, but rather than compare him to a single artist I’ll place him in an era. The early 2000s had a special kind of country music, you had songs like Brad Paisley’s “Waitin’ On A Woman,” Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Blink,” George Strait’s “I Saw God Today,” and Trace Adkins’ “You’re Gonna Miss This,” and I feel that Mo Pitney fits right in there with the last few good years of country music before it turned into the check cashing country we know today.

From grocery shopping for Cheerios and running into an ex-lover in “Clean Up On Aisle Five,” to a heart-wrenching ode to man’s best friend with “It’s Just A Dog,” Pitney takes what most would call mundane everyday life and turns it into delicate works of art. Pitney also gives nod to one of country music’s favourite legends with “I Met Merle Haggard Today,” and Pitney’s own success with the title track “Behind This Guitar.” If you’ve been looking for some country music with real substance, you’ll undoubtedly find it in Pitney’s freshman album. Behind This Guitar is bound to fill you with a sense of hope that maybe, someday soon, we’ll be able to turn this check cashing country back into country music that matters again.

Favourite songs: Country, Clean Up On Aisle Five, It’s Just A Dog, Come Do A Little Life, Love Her Like I Lost Her

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