Friday, March 9, 2012

Nuts About Country - Billy Don Burns, Album Review

Some things in life just feel as if they are meant to be. It could be the timing structure of a great song, that perfect back road on a bike or maybe just rollin' into a new town and feeling a good vibe. The new album from Billy Don Burns plays into this notion and then the tunes roll on as if they were the last songs you were supposed to hear. Now that we are working with Billy D, we can fully attest to the sincerity of his work and him as an individual. Hell, have a look at the arrowheads and skinning stone that he passed along. Having treasures such as these found on his property in Arkansas is a gift beyond measure. We know that you are going to dig this album and get out to shows and Support Real Country Music!

Gifts from Billy Don Burns, two arrowheads and a skinning stone from the White River in Arkansas

Billy Don Burns feature review on Nuts About Country

Link to original article on Nuts About Country

“I know I’m not the loneliest person in the world / I’m sure there’s someone out there lonelier
than me /
I know I’m not in the worst shape but I surely am a sight / What I know for sure it’s mighty lonesome here tonight…”  When Lonesome Comes Around – Billy Don Burns

It is there on his right arm, bold and proud, for the world to see. The dark ink stencils the word that says it all. It is not so much artistry and it is not so much defiance, but rather a proud fact and a rite of entitled passage. Billy Don Burns, the Arkansas native and now Nashville resident, is a tarnished troubadour who wears his Outlaw tattoo with pride.

That pride comes with an earned history. This former beau to Lorrie Morgan, has travelled the miles, endured the troubles, all the while pitching tunes to some of country music’s hardest hitters. Willie Nelson, Sammy Kershaw, Mel Tillis and Connie Smith (and others) have all recorded BDB songs.

The term outlaw conjures lonely men, hard trails, dark nights, and shadowy figures. It was a life Burns knew well in the early 90s. However, it was a life later redeemed and tuned to lyrical honesty.  With affirming tunes like “ Dark Side of the Spoon”, “Full Blown Addict”, “Running Drugs Out of Mexico” and the telling tale of worn experiences on “I Was There”, Billy Don Burns started enjoying critical industry interest.

As Burns has said when speaking of his music, “It may be a little darker than people like to recognize, but it’s there. I wish my life was more of an Ozzie and  Harriet kind of life, but it ain’t.”

Now with recorded proof to the claim, Burns has a new album – Nights When I’m Sober…A Portrait of a Honky Tonk Singer.  The album is due out on Rusty Knuckles Music shortly.

The album, value with its 12 self-written tunes, is a sure delight for those who dig singer/songwriters. Sure, Billy Don doesn’t come with a tricked-up Top 10 voice, but the tunes of cold nights, the sad times and the shattered isolation of the man in the mirror more than compensate.

Billy Don Burns jamming with Hellbound Glory © Rusty Knuckles Music 2012

And the voice? Well, BDB paints his lyrics with keen and vivid images. The voice, one suspects, comes from one too many cigarettes, one too many nights in smoke-filled bars, and one too many songs sung over loud and rowdy crowds. It’s a voice made for the hurtin' end of the bar. It’s a voice made for these songs.

While this album comes thumbs up from me, I’d encourage you to check out the BDB catalogue including Train Called Lonesome, Heroes, Friends and  Other Troubled Souls and The Berlin Tapes.

The Berlin Tapes is an easy album. It’s one man. It’s one guitar. It comes stoked with tuneful memories. It’s musical magic to these weathered ears. Billy Don Burns isn’t for those who swoon on hatted hunks, tweezed and tweaked cowboys, or those radio cowpokes who sell mass produced mayhem. No, this is serious music. It’s dark and reflective, sure, but it’s honest. It’s the music of character and hard lived times, but, importantly, it’s the music of survival. Billy Don Burns – Nights When I’m Sober (The Portrait of a Honky Tonk Singer) -- a model for today’s wannabee outlaws.

 - George Peden