Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Josh Turner – Why Don’t We Just Dance

That’s two country songs, by blokes, in a row, that we’ve liked. Fuck me…


Matt Cibula: Old-timey goodness and a typical nu-country selfish-ass “let’s ignore the problems of the world and have sex” message, with a subtext of recession terror. I wish he wasn’t so impressed with his vocal range, but I never mark Mariah down for that so it would be uncharitable to visit that on Turner.

Michaelangelo Matos: I still don’t know why anyone here thought Jason Aldean’s “Big Green Tractor” was a sex metaphor, but not even my most proudly dirty-minded Singles Jukebox compatriots are gonna mistake this one for anything other than a song about dancing. “Baby, why don’t you go put your best dress on?/And those high-heel shoes you love to lose as soon as the tunes come on.” That’s what I love about this song: tunes, the word. It sets the whole scenario: courtly and friendly and absolutely unconcerned with hip, fond and goofy and deeply settled in. It helps that the lyric seems to be acting more in service to the groove than is usual in the country I hear, which isn’t much, but you don’t need to go too deep to hear how loose and spacious and hard-kicking the rockabilly groove is. Then again “Dance down the hall, maybe straight up the stairs/Bouncing off the wall, floating on air” makes me wonder.

Anthony Easton: The video is weird, and the video indicates the key to understanding Josh Turner. He makes hetero-normative, bourgeoisie monogamous innocence into narratives of complete erotic capituation. The song is simple, the guitars are well crafted, and the drums provide the perfect accent — but I keep being reminded about the old joke: why don’t Baptists fuck standing up? It might lead to dancing. So here, Josh Turner is watching a married couple stripping, dancing in their bedroom, pretending it’s a joke, but there is real tension here, tension about boredom, and needing to connect, and how hot married sex can be. I do not think that they will do anything more than dance — but dancing is enough.

Chuck Eddy: A song about dancing that’s almost too relaxed to imagine people dancing to — even in the meager country line-dance sense. Not that I’m much of a line-dancer myself. But still, there’s a sweet lightness-of-touch here — hits me as almost courtly, somehow, so perhaps for dancing around your parlor — not what I’d expect from a singer who’s generally struck me as a somewhat leaden baritone. I kind of like his new album, too — approximately 82 percent lust-and-romance songs (an almost last-Keith-Urban-album level of single-mindedness), if you count the just-got-paid one where he’s got a hot date on Friday night, but don’t count the ones where he loves his kids and Jesus. It’s especially nice when he tries Dixieland pop and old-school soul.

Martin Skidmore: This has a nicely bluesy old country feel to the music, and I like his voice in its deep lower register. When he moves up in the scale he sounds kind of ordinary — I’m inclined to think that this kind of pleasantly bouncy number isn’t his best territory, and I’d rather hear him in a darker and weightier vein.

Iain Mew: It doesn’t matter how jaunty your backing is and how deep your drawl is – if your chat up line is predicated on the world having gone to shit, you need more persuasive evidence than “315 channels of nothing but bad news”.

Alex Ostroff: I’m usually not one to pick disengaged escapism over striving for change, but Josh Turner’s deep tones make tuning out sound more attractive than it’s ever been before. The lilting fiddle and honky-tonk piano decorate a song that’s exactly as funky as it needs to be, while his smooth voice and two left feet talk you out of your self-consciousness and into your boogie shoes. The world outside is fucked up and scary and bigger than you and I, Turner is saying, so take your moments of joy where you can. He’s not far off the mark.

Alfred Soto: The song has a bass somewhere, but nowhere as resonant as Turner’s baritone. As a hook, it’s almost irresistible, ingratiating enough to serve as bait. You may not dance for more than one song, but it won’t embarrass you later.

Edward Okulicz: The pre-chorus of this is fantastic, sweet, hooky, folksy, charming, glorious; and when the titular line comes in it falls short of being the celebratory declaration I feel it needed — it sort of trails off, leaving a song on the cusp of being really special but ending up as a charming trinket.

John Seroff: Turner’s robust bass-to-baritone voice is more than just technically sharp; it’s full of enough genuine heart and rustic charm to turn this cornfed honkytonker into something grown-up, lovely and memorable. It’s got the greatest differential between BPM and swell of joyful noise that I can remember; slow and rock-steady wins this race hands down. Note to Ke$ha: this is how you make a “the world’s fucked, let’s fuck” party ballad without being ugly.

Ian Mathers: At first I thought the video was risible “hey, weren’t things better in the 50s?” stuff, but the grinning Turner has pre-empted my jerking knee; it’s actually just about how we’ve been letting off steam the same way for decades (well, longer). I can’t (or won’t?) dance to country, but the effortless sweetness and light of this song is one of those cases where I absolutely get the appeal of the genre (and good call, leaving the “world has gone crazy” rhetoric vague enough that everyone can imagine their own partisan hates). It’s a trifle, in the very best sense.

10 Responses to “Josh Turner – Why Don’t We Just Dance”

  1. “courtly” really is a great word for this.

  2. Wow, Matos guesses wrong. The dirtiness of my mind is NOT TO BE UNDERESTIMATED.

  3. at least one of the jesus songs on his album is a sex song…

  4. Is there a different Jesus song besides “Answer,” the last track? I didn’t notice any sex in that, but it’s possible I wasn’t listening close enough. Here’s how I described it on ILM Rolling Country 2010 (which thread I’ve been keeping alive all by myself lately, btw, and I wish people like Anthony would come back and help me out again grrr grr grrr): “closing Jesus number is not as noxious as I suggested — I like the Muscle Shoals style church organ and gospel backup, and even the message (basically, I guess, that there’s somebody you can lean on if things are going lousy for you) doesn’t seem particularly offensive.” Earlier in the thread I had called it “gratuitous put-your-faith-in-Jesus bullshit; when did the tradition of country albums ending with Jesus start, anyway? I’ve noticed that a few times, the last few years.”

    Also, here’s what I wrote last week about an earlier Jesus hit he had (which I think Anthony may have liked):

    Heard Josh Turner’s “Me And God” from a couple years back on the radio this afternoon, and remembered one reason he used to bug me so much. I swear, every time I hear that, here’s what it sounds like he’s singing:

    There ain’t nothing that can’t be done
    By Mean God
    Ain’t nobody gonna come in between Mean God
    One day we’ll live together
    Where the angels trod
    Mean God…

    He rules the world
    With a staff and rod
    We’re a team
    Mean God

  5. See the caveat at the end of my blurb, Matt. I hedged.

  6. (haha that’s a hedge itself, obv.)

  7. I think for Anthony all Jesus songs are also sex songs.

  8. that’s not fair.

  9. I also read this as why don’t we just “dance”

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