With the exception of a few remixes and covers, fans of Jimmie Allen have not been given new music since his 2018 debut album Mercury Lane. Still, the “Best Shot” singer has maintained his spot in country music and has developed a devoted community through social media. With his growing fanbase, Bettie James is here to reintroduce Allen in a way that could not have been more anticipated, in the very best way: with a collaborative project.
With six, out of seven, unreleased tracks with entertainers such as Nelly, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, and more, Bettie James works as a mesh of creatively diverse tracks. There are feel-good, powerhouse songs, estranged love ballads, inspirational messages laid over music, and reflective lyrics that contemplate tragedy and, in another production, potential growth.
Bettie James was undoubtedly worth the wait, not only for Allen’s listeners but for country music as a whole. It showcases a grown, matured, and versatile artist who is capable of honesty and vulnerability as well as performing those country music classics that get people moving and grooving. Not only does it provide Allen with a chance to redefine himself in a multifaceted, cross-genre way, but the well-known contributors are able to play with their preferred style of music, too. For instance, “Made for These” practically demands Tim McGraw’s involvement since it walks the same line as McGraw’s 2004 hit, “Live Like You Were Dying”. Additionally, “Freedom Was A Highway” aligns with Brad Paisley’s high-esteemed inclinations to incorporate a dense, electric riff.
Further exploring a mix of genre-bending music from top to bottom, the album kicks off with the infectious and fan-favorite “Good Times Roll” featuring Nelly and ends with the final and seventh track, “This Is Us” featuring Noah Cyrus. Fans got a bit of an early taste for each of these two tracks. While the latter was released on its own in February, Allen also began including a sneak peek of “Good Times Roll” in his live show as early as December 2019. Check out the video below for a clip of the live performance.
Although, Bettie James in its entirety is a true gift, there are two notable pieces, and it would be a great disservice if “Drunk & I Miss You” and “Why Things Happen” were not specifically given the words, and the space, to officially discuss and acclaim. The former is with Mickey Guyton and the melody practically sends the listener into a dizzying mental state, as if a camera is rotating 360° around an object to cause chaos and confusion. It only adds to the anguish and desperation of the song, though the mixed feelings of honesty battled with alcohol-induced longing creates a conflicted, muddled mental state that allows the track to be what it is. And, it’s great.
“Why Things Happen”, with Charley Pride and Darius Rucker, takes on a more serious route with the lyrics searching for answers as to, well, why things happen as they do. It’s political, without having to get political. And, it’s an emotional, thought-provoking production that tugs at the heart-strings. With Rucker’s natural tremble in his voice and Pride’s established, rough yet muted tone intertwining with each other and echoing Allen, a full-blast exploratory creation is born that leaves us wanting more.
Bettie James is an epiphanic, significant and well-built project from Allen that takes you on a whirlwind of emotions in seven tracks, leaving you dazed and confused, in the very best way.
Bettie James is now available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more recently released music here on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.
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