Pick Six: November 2011

Ken Morton, Jr. | November 16th, 2011

This is the first of what we hope will be a semi-regular feature highlights some great songs that are inspiring at least one of the Engine 145 writers. The goal will be to find six great tracks that are a bit off the radar from an album released within the last couple of months. While Engine 145 provides you regular analysis of current radio singles, this column will give some love to some tunes that might be hidden behind that proverbial radio curtain. This particular one might point a little more mainstream country, but going forward, we’ll cross roots music subgenres regularly.

Let us know what you think. Do you agree? Were there some different songs that moved you off of the same albums? Is there anything special off of some other recent releases that were missed?


6. David Nail – “Sound of a Million Dreams”

This, the title track of Nail’s brand new album, is reminiscent of the best of those memorable 1980’s Billy Joel piano ballads. It’s no wonder that it was co-penned by country piano man Phil Vassar. The song utilizes terrific personal imagery to illustrate how songs make a powerful tie to the memories of our life. Nail links classics by Seger, Springsteen and Haggard to specific life experiences and then wishes aloud that his voice might do the same.


5. Toby Keith – “Clancy’s Tavern”

Keith’s (mostly) true biographical song about his grandmother’s profession was inspired by a summer that he spent with her helping her in her bar when he was twelve years old. The lyrics pay great tribute to the lady whose passion for her patrons and business shines through. Lily the waitress and Elmo the short-order cook help paint a personal picture made all the more vivid by a gun-wielding Clancy at closing time: “She’s cleaned the last table / And shined up the bar / It’s late and everyone’s gone / Then she’ll cock her pistol / And count all her money / And drive that old Chrysler back home.”


4. Miranda Lambert – “Dear Diamond”

Choosing just one favorite track off of Lambert’s outstanding new Four the Record album is a difficult task, but I’ll be happy to take one for the team and listen to it over and over again to make that choice. No one does heartbreak kiss-offs quite like her, but up until “Dear Diamond,” those tracks were generally reserved for uptempo rockers. She slows things way down here and laments to the ring on her hand that she’s chosen the wrong man: “You cost more than he wanted to lose / And with this ring I said I do / Promise to never do what I’ve done / I’ve lied to someone / Dear diamond.” The great twist—similar to the one she threw in at the end of “White Liar”—is that she’ll swallow this bitter truth and keep it a secret between only her and the diamond.


3. Sawyer Brown – “Travelin’ Band”

30 years of travel in a few minutes of song. That’s the beauty behind this beauty. Sawyer Brown’s most recent release has gone largely under the radar of nearly everything, but the title track is definitely worth a purchase. The introspective lyrics share the band’s first big break, their wild clothes, their crazy hairdos, favorite shows and the magic of fans singing their biggest hits back to them on stage. At this stage of their long career, the band uses their personal story as the backbone of the song to great effect.


2. Lauren Alaina – “The Locket”

This one is an all-girl affair. Alaina does her best Jessica Andrews impression on a song written by Mallary Hope. A World War II romance and a gift of a locket is brought forward to a hand-me-down gift in present day in this romantic number. Without being too schmaltzy, the song handles a lifelong love and how that example lives on beyond the couple well. If it was a movie, it would be a good chick flick.


1.  Scotty McCreery – “Dirty Dishes

Those with kids are going to appreciate this little ditty about a mother’s prayer. Dirty dishes mean there’s something for the family to eat, Daddy’s long hours at work mean they’re employed and noisy children equal happy children. McCreery’s not far removed from the kid-at-home dynamic and he delivers a quality vocal performance on a song that, during this time of the Occupy movement, reminds us to be grateful for what we have.


  1. luckyoldsun
    November 16, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Agree–That line from Toby– “She’ll cock her pistol”–completely makes the song.

    Not being a firearms expert myself, I’m not exactly sure how Clancy can cock the gun every night (Wouldn’t she have to fire it before she could cock it again?) but the lyric does give her personality.

  2. Ben Foster
    November 16, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    I would have chosen the same song from Miranda’s album as your did. “Dear Diamond” was without a doubt my favorite track from Four the Record. Great lyric, nice stripped-down arrangement, and I love hearing Patty Loveless sing harmony vocals.

    I’m with you on “Dirty Dishes” as well. The Scotty McCreery album was largely disposable, but that is one good song.

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