John Paul White: The Hurting Kind
As a professional Nashville staff songwriter, and half of the Grammy winning duo The Civil Wars, John Paul White’s songs have always combined folk, country and pop. For his second solo album since the demise of The Civil Wars, White wanted to recreate the feel of the country classics of the ‘60s and early’70s. He succeeds more often than not, with songs that deliver intense emotion with soaring melodies, great vocals and shrewd lyrics that turn clichés inside out with startling results. “My Dreams Have All Come True” comes off like a forgotten Roy Orbison track. White easily slides into his falsetto range, while a band of Nashville pros spin around him with a dreamy, countrypolitan waltz full of pedal steel, fiddles and acoustic piano. The legendary Whisperin’ Bill Anderson co-wrote “You Lost Me,” a song about infidelity, with a lyric that’s a bit more X-rated than would have been possible in the ‘60s. White’s singing has the understated panache of Jim Reeves, with the minimal acoustic backing adding to the song’s emotional intensity. “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and “D. I. V. O. R. C. E.” author Bobby Braddock contributed to “This Isn’t Gonna End Well,” presented as a duet with Lee Ann Womack. White’s character wants to surrender, knowing that his self-sabotaging tendencies will probably bring the affair to an inglorious end. Throughout, his singing suggests greats like Marty Robbins and Roy Orbison while his stellar songwriting allows him to easily soar over the high bar those artists have set.