From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Casey Donahew Band “Double-Wide Dream” (Almost Country Records)
While I consider myself an ardent advocate of free speech and expression, I often wish I could ban country songwriters from certain overused phrases.
Heading that list of worn-out lyrics would be “I love that pretty little country girl,” an eyeroll-inducing line that seems to be experiencing unprecedented popularity as rural anthems extolling the virtues of down-home lifestyles and the women who thrive in them dominate the genre’s charts.
The insipid cliché makes yet another appearance in the chorus to the title track of the Casey Donahew Band’s “Double-Wide Dream,” and bland lyrics like it are the chief shortcoming of the popular Texas country sextet’s follow-up to its 2009 breakout album “Moving On.”
The band’s Burleson-born and bred frontman wrote or co-wrote all 10 tracks on “Double-Wide Dream,” but Donahew makes listeners wade through too much generic material to get to the stronger stuff, especially considering the album clocks in at less than 40 minutes. Still, those who slog through the blander tracks are rewarded with some engrossing songs, most notably the rollicking yarn “White Trash Story II (The Deuce),” another hillbilly ode enlivened with all sorts of intriguing imagery.
Similarly, Donahew and co-writer Aaron Copeland bring enough vivid details and genuine emotion to “Running Through My Head” and “Regrets” to set them apart from the usual maudlin breakup ballads.
When it comes to love songs, Donahew and Steve Rice, lead singer of Stillwater red dirt band No Justice, collaborate on a couple of keepers: “Lets Not Say Goodbye Again” makes palpable the relieved joy of a man grateful for reconciliation with his lady love, while “Give You a Ring” is less noteworthy for its play on words than for its protagonist’s unrestrained vulnerability.
The hard-touring band makes frequent jaunts to Oklahoma and will play Feb. 18 at the Diamond Ballroom. For more information, go to www.diamondballroom.net.