Reviewing albums is on some days, the hardest thing to do as you have to be in the mood, get in the zone, remember what you heard and find something to say. I won’t lie, on occasion I do struggle when an album hasn’t left a lasting impression but when albums such as Behind This Guitar fall into my lap then it’s a game changer. Today’s country music market is mostly country pop and don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of what is in the country chart these days but every now and then I really crave a bit of traditional.
Mo Pitney is the perfect example of what modern-traditional country should be. From the very start of the rather fitting titled song Country, I was instantly hooked. Mo’s music and lyrics are just so wonderfully country – his voice is Nashville and his vocal delivery is very inviting and warming making him a refreshing artist who is authentic, natural and not trying to be anything other than who he is.
The previously mentioned track Country kicks the album off in a rather up beat, strong country fashion. The song makes you want to grab your boots, get in the car and as his lyrics say “drive across the country, just to listen to some country”. When you envision The Grand Ole Opry and what type of music you would expect to hear there, it is artists such as Mo. Country has instantly engaging lyrics as they speak to every true country fan on the planet – when I listened to this song for the first time, I remembered why I fell in love with country music in the first place and I actually felt a tad emotional. The song is by no means sad but it describes perfectly the lifestyle of every country fan and how they feel about this wonderful genre. Country is a place in your heart.
Clean Up On Aisle Five is just about relatable to anyone who has ever been through a break up. Mo captures the experience of bumping into your first love and being caught off guard perfectly – none of us want to experience that but if we did or if you have, chances are you felt like or would feel like Mo does in this song. Sonically the song is of a beautiful country ballad style, it is instrumentally emotional as much as it is lyrically.
Billy Currington springs to mind when hearing Come Do A Little Life. The steel guitar moments really grab you and the way Mo sings this track is very storytelling in a way that is natural and what you would find on an old Brad Paisley record and it does make me wonder why artists such as Mo aren’t topping the country charts like they were not too long ago.
If you know Mo then you will see a dog pop up from time to time especially in his music videos. What I love about country music is there are no rules, you can sing about anything, you can sing about a dog if you want to and Mo does exactly that. It’s Just A Dog will hit any dog lover hard – it is so beautifully written and speaks of a reality that is sadly faced everyday. There is no companionship like that of a dog so I won’t lie, this song made me cry and I don’t even have a dog ha!
Everywhere is probably the most pop infused track but in a very strong way as it isn’t modern pop if that makes sense? The chorus is incredibly catchy and not in an annoying sense but in a well crafted way. The song is powerful and anthem like – it is a very decent sing a long to song.
Boy and A Girl Thing features Morgane Stapleton and is such a sweet and stunning track. Mo and Morgane’s voices blend perfectly together, It’s like listening to Kenny and Dolly but the next generation. I love the lyrics to this song, it is a definite reminder of what it was like growing up. This is one of greatest Modern Traditional country songs that I have heard in a long time and certainly needs to be heard more.
What I love about the song I Met Merle Haggard Today is the joy of hearing an artist being just as regular and star struck as us fans are with artists they love. The lyrics;
Oh what was I thinking
Should have took a picture with my phone
Or a least record him singing ‘pleasure to meet you Mo’
But it was over in a second
Then he strolled down to the stage
But it’s OK… Cause I met Merle Haggard today
At least I can say… I met Merle Haggard today
Yep, pretty much every after thought I have had after a meet and greet. This is a very happy tune with a fun lovin’ vibe, a very good mood setter.
Take The Chance is musically and lyrically poetic. Alison Krauss lends her vocals to this song which makes the harmonies breathtaking. The melody is heavenly, truly stunning.
When I’m With You brings the album back to a more up beat, dancing mood. It isn’t my favourite track, probably my least favourite off the album but still a good tune, it just doesn’t grab me like the rest but perhaps in time that will change.
Love Her Like I Lost Her is a painfully beautiful ballad. This is one song that you really need to listen to the lyrics to because it at first seems like a very tragic story and really pulls at your heart strings but as the lyrics state, it is all in a dream but what I find painful of this song is just how often these type of dreams do occur and that awful waking moment when you think it is reality but then that moment also when you realise it isn’t. It is a great message to appreciate every moment which we often take for granted and what our dreams teach us.
Behind This Guitar is another gorgeous tune, in fact, there really isn’t a bad song on this album. Of the song, Mo says “People tell me I can’t cut it because the chorus says, ‘Behind this guitar there’s just a boy who had a dream in his heart, behind this guitar there’s just a guy that can’t believe he got this far.’ And they point out that I haven’t gotten anywhere yet, so save it for the second album. But I remember sitting on my bed with the dream of just making music the rest of my life. It wasn’t that I had to be on radio or even make a living doing it. I just loved music. Now I’m on the Opry. I have a record deal. And I’m loving the music that I’m making. I can’t believe I got this far!”
I agree with his statement, it isn’t about how far you have got but how you feel in that moment.
Give Me Jesus closes the album. A song such as this needs no heavy production and Mo’s acoustic rendition is beautiful in its simplicity.
If you enjoy artists such as Josh Turner then Mo is your man, if you love the Water, Welcome To The Future side to Brad Paisley then this is the album you have to buy. Mo Pitney is a gratifyingly good artist and a real breath of fresh air.
Mo has the ability to make you really listen to his lyrics and to really understand his music and I haven’t been this captivated by an artist in a long time. Mo is what country music is all about, he tells us stories, real ones, relatable ones and sings in such an emotive way that you believe every word he sings.
Mo returns to the UK in March for C2C Festival and will be playing various shows including Saturdays Bluebird Cafe show and I highly recommend you check him out.
by Hannah Compton
Purchase Behind This Guitar by Mo Pitney here
Buy on CD Behind This Guitar