Welcome to another edition of Country Music Minds' Tracks of the Day feature! Louis has been doing a great job with this feature on weekdays, and I'm thrilled to try my hand at this feature on the weekends.
While Mike Stinson wrote Dwight Yoakam's 2003 single "The Late Great Golden State", it was sadly too good for country radio (going all the way to "52 with a bullet", as Mike has been known to joke). It wasn't until he released his excellent album The Jukebox in Your Heart in 2010 that he began to really command the attention of country fans. Packed with extremely smart songwriting and an engaging honky-tonk sound that melded the classic sounds of the past with modern sensibilities, it served as his breakthrough album and made many "Best of 2010" lists. One of the best tracks from the album is "Square With the World", a simple but touching declaration of a man who made mistakes in his past but now resolves to do the best he can to do right by those around him.
While here at CMM we typically talk more about more traditional and rootsier artists, the truth is there is nothing inherently inferior or lesser about music done in a more contemporary or pop style as long as it's smart, creative and well-executed. You'd be hard-pressed to find better evidence of that than Kim Richey's debut album from 1995, which I heard for the first time last year and was struck by how good of a songwriter she is. "From Where I Stand" describes an awkward chance meeting involving a woman, her ex, and the woman her ex had left her for. It's an uptempo with an earworm chorus - one of the rare songs that manages to offer intelligent lyrics and be very catchy to listen to.