Jeffrey Steele Saturates Country Music

On 03-18-2010
at 3:58 pm

Jeffrey Steele is to country music, as Barq’s is to root beer. There is nothing unique to the flavor of Barq’s, just as there is nothing unique to a Jeffrey Steele song. Steele is not a “mom and pop” songwriter, he is a factory. His lyrics have little to no tension. I would say that money is his sole reason for writing songs, because it is definitely not about telling a story. I have been sifting through his songs to find a diamond in the rough, and I have actually found two. I found mostly dross in my findings, but Patty Loveless‘ “Last In A Long Lonesome Line” and Diamond Rio’s “Unbelievable” are two songs that are not indicative to Steele’s body of work.

We all know that Patty Loveless does not compromise. She not only respects the legends, but if she was an artist during the heyday of classic country, there’s a good bet that she would have gone far. “Last In A Long Lonesome Line” is a deep cut off of her On Your Way Home record.  Jeff’s writing style is pretty family friendly and without any meat, but ‘Lonesome Line’ eludes to past and present country artists that have been shunned by Music Row. There are no fancy frills are over-polished production, and do I hear a fiddle and pedal steel. This song probably would have been a great fit for the Crazy Heart soundtrack. Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard are still going strong, it is a pity that most of today’s country fans do not know this. They will not go quietly into the night. They are still recording and performing great music. Does the song blatantly point out these artists, no, but the following lines are an allusion if there ever was one.

Tears an’ whiskey, yeah, I spilled my share. But it’s the music that’s kept me goin’ through all of these years. An’ there some songs still need singin’ before closin’ time, From the last of, the last in a long lonesome line.

Diamond Rio’s “Unbelievable” is one of the most rousing country songs to date. Marty Roe never ceases to be a great lead vocalist, but the truly impressive aspect of this song is Gene Johnson’ bird whistle-like tenor. Of course, the lyrics are hokey, using adjective after adjective, but who cares.  This song is too much fun to be weighty. Steele hasn’t written a song this fun since. I don’t care what you say, “Me and My Gang” is not a fun song. These are the only songs that I can halfway stomach from his career as a songwriter. Oh and by the way, I prefer Stewart’s.

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