A version of this review appears in Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Joe Nichols “Old Things New” (Universal Records South)
Country singer Joe Nichols uses his wonderfully rich baritone to craft “Old Things New,” another solid neotraditionalist effort from the Arkansas native.
The Grammy-nominated crooner specializes in country music that is traditional in both sound and sentiment. Mandolins, fiddles and steel guitars drench sorrowful ballads, funny drinking songs and tributes to Merle Haggard and strawberry pie.
But Nichols succeeds in what the album title suggests: For all their customary trappings, the songs feel relevant and contemporary. He tells the tale of a busy working couple reconnecting in “This Bed’s Too Big,” then drawls a humorous suggestion for coping with modern-day hardship in “Cheaper Than a Shrink.”
Nichols notched a big hit in 2003 with the tearjerking “The Impossible,” and he offers another sweeping anthem with “Believers,” a different take on dealing with tough times.
But the album’s highlight is “An Old Friend of Mine,” a poignant tale of newfound sobriety that Nichols, who went through rehab two years ago, delivers with heartfelt emotion.
He closes the record with a distinctly nontraditional spin on an old song: A rap-country remix of his hilarious hit “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” by Fat Shan and Colt Ford.
Nichols will perform in concert Wednesday at the Wormy Dog Saloon, 311 E Sheridan. For more information, go to www.wormydog.com.