Down here in Texas, Houston en route to Austin, I think it’s only proper to offer up some thoughts on Pat F. Green. It’s going on a decade since I drove down from New Hampshire to Washington, D.C. to see PFG for the first time, and was surely the sole wearer of a NY Mets hat in a town that just a few years before had gotten their own baseball team back and in a crowd filled with Texas ex pats. At the time that was about the farthest north Green ventured, but clearly had sights set on bigger things. It was also about that time that I (apparently) introduced my good friend, who I’ll be travelling to Austin with shortly, to Pat Green and so, Pat, my apologies for his incessant screams at your concerts for Down to the River. At that DC show Green played Let Me, introducing it as a song he’d not yet released and which would eventually be the first single off his What I’m For album. He’s come a long way Home.
Life Good as It Can Be is one of my favorite tracks on the new album. It feels exactly like the kind of song Pat Green should be singing at this stage of his career, like the song says a “take it easy baby, if it’s easy take it twice” kind of song. The lyrics feature a nice blend of sober reflection and just a hint of PFG’s old rowdiness, the tempo is upbeat and energizing but not trying to be pop country and the vocals seem true to a relaxed and contemplative Green, not artificially smoothed out. Letting his guitar put the cash in his car and drinking all the beers in Milwaukee gesture to the Pat Green material of old – Here We Go, George’s Bar, etc – but the song ultimately goes in a different route, reflection over rebellion:
Well I never forgot what my daddy told me
said I waited too long son I’ll never break free
there’s gotta be more boy to being alive
then minimum wage every day til you die
I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Girls From Texas, but because this song’s been pretty well received – particularly in concert – and was released as Home’s first single, it deserves mention. The song doesn’t do it for me since the lyrics are a bit cliché and seem too concerned with trying to find words that rhyme rather than telling a story or fleshing out any meat to the song. But on the other hand, the shout outs to so many states is great – how many times do states like New York and Minnesota get mentioned in country songs after all?! And the lullaby tempo and instrumentals are nice and, together with the inclusion of Lyle Lovett, are a clear signal in this first single of what to expect from the remainder of album (i.e. Texas country music).
Day One was Home’s second released single and a fantastic song that recalls the greatness of hits like Don’t Break My Heart Again. In songs like this we hear PFG vocals that convey so much emotion, raw and real, not manufactured. Combined with the strong lyrics that aren’t exactly novel but are combined in a clever way and are overwhelmingly thoughtful and sincere, the vocals take the listener reeling along with the grieving Green through the classic combination of love and hard times, with a bit of nostalgia thrown in.
In addition to the highlights above, there are a number of other strong tracks on the album, in particular Home and I’ll Take This House. And in the end Home is a more mature, grown up Pat Green, which is altogether fitting and welcome: Home was released nearly two decades after Green’s first live album and so the album, called after and representing a return to roots, is fittingly less rowdy and freewheeling and more analytical and reflective. Green has matured as singer and songwriter, and many of his fans have grown up a bit too. But even more important than the particulars of the album is the fact that the extremely talented Pat Green is once again releasing new, original music – With PFG back on the scene, Texas country music fans have a lot to look forward to!