I don’t pretend to know everything about the West Virginia music scene, but I’m told that for his latest album, Andrew Adkins assembled some of the State’s most respected musicians. And I trust this to be true because the musicianship on this album is fantastic. The guitars, mandolins, drums, piano, all of it is perfectly placed. The vocals are fantastic. Really, a flawless album in terms of music and proving that it doesn’t have to be live to have soul.

Let me say I really, really like this record, so you don’t take this the wrong way: The songwriting is fairly traditional country. There’s reverence for the military, resentment for the wealthy, shout-outs to mama, love songs and dance songs, wistful pining and hard-livin’. But it’s very good country–and so much of this kind of thing can get dull (or worse, corny) pretty fast. Adkins never has that issue.

I’ve listened to this album twice already, and I have a feeling it will stay with me for a while. Might even make my end-of-year list. Let’s see how it plays in July.

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