Earlier this year, we were treated to a fantastic release by singer-songwriter Courtney Patton. So This Is Life is a stellar collection of songs that bring back the simple story-telling that country music purists long for. Much in the vein of Brandy Clark's 12 Stories, Courtney's new album has stirring commentary from a female perspective presented in a frank and casual manner. If you are longing for some good old fashioned stories, this is the album for you.
There really isn't a weak point or slow moment in this entire album. Every single song hits you like a ton of bricks. From the easy going barroom tale of "Killing Time" to the struggles of a female artist in "War Of Art", you get a sense of real heart and soul in each track. Courtney has knack for songs that say a lot without being overbearing or pushy. In other words, it is a throwback to the simple country songs of yesterday. While some great songs have masterful lyrics that read out like a Shakespearean novel, others can have the same impact with a quarter of the words. Courtney's album falls into the "less is more" category. She covers both ends of the spectrum of love with songs of heartbreak, happiness, and longing. "Need For Wanting" and "Battle These Blues" are perfect whiskey-soaked sad songs about the trials of being alone. "Maybe It's You" is an incredibly sweet love song that is full of stark honesty rather than overused cliches. "12 Days" is a great tale of two entertainers struggling with being apart while touring. Courtney certainly can sing this with authenticity, as she is married to another stellar country artist, Jason Eady.
While this whole album is full of great songs, two of them popped out at me as some of the best songwriting you will ever hear. The title track "So This Is Life" journeys through the life a couple who just can't make it work. It chronicles the factors that lead to the deterioration of the marriage over time, never really placing blame. Courtney wrote this from a personal place when her parents divorced. You can really tell that it comes from some place deep inside. It is a real knock-out of a song. "Where I've Been" is another incredible story about a marriage falling apart. Written by her husband, Jason Eady, it tells the tale of a woman who has simply had it with her broken marriage and is looking for something else on the side to find satisfaction. Deep down, she doesn't want the marriage to end. "If you ever decide that you ever want to try again, well I'll be here in the morning... just don't ask me where I've been". What a great lyric. The sparse arrangement really makes you focus on the words, and Courtney delivers it with a gripping performance that leaves you hanging on every word.
So This Is Life is yet another example of the independent artists out there who put their heart and soul into their music making great records. This album was funded via Kickstarter, so it truly was a independent album free of any tinkering or shuffling from big shots at a label. The result is a very personal album that hits all the emotions over and over. This is the kind of music that country radio should be playing, but isn't. This is what the genre was built upon. If you are in the mood to get your heart ripped out, two-step on a sawdust floor, and be reminded why you love the one you love, get So This Is Life. The title tells you exactly what to expect: life.
Standout Tracks: "So This Is Life", "Where I've Been", "War Of Art", "Battle These Blues", "Need For Wanting", "Killing Time", "Maybe It's You"
"So This Is Life"
"Battle These Blues"