Joe Nichols: ‘Good Day For Living’ – Album Review

Joe Nichols’ new album, Good Day For Living, featuring “Home Run” and “I Got Friends Who Do” with Blake Shelton, is out today, February 11. Read our review below.

Long considered one of country music’s best modern traditionalists, Joe Nichols stays true to that reputation on his new album, Good Day For Living, out today, February 11. The album is his first full-length project in four years, reuniting him with Mickey Jack Cones and Derek George, the producers behind his hits “Sunny and 75” and “Yeah.”

“For the first time in a long time, I don’t feel any pressure,” Nichols says in a statement. “I’m around great people. I’m the type of person who’s always striving for more, but I’ve reached a place where I’m grateful for everything I’ve accomplished so far. It’s been such a good run. I feel at peace, and that has freed me up to make new music that’s very honest.”

For the Quartz Hill Record recording artist, who is releasing his first album with the new label, but his tenth in total, the album is a statement to what he does best. It’s Nichols at his finest and that’s just what fans have come to know. Nowhere is this more evident than the album’s title track, which is sure to lighten your step, starting with a feelgood whistle remnant of Nichols’ hit “Sunny and 75.”

In a press round, Nichols said, “I like this song because it puts me in a good mood,” and it does the same for his kids. He admitted that the song is a favorite among his 7 and 9-year-old, for the simple line, “AC’s broke so we gotta sleep naked.” Yet the ode to embracing the good parts of your day is much more than that. “Living it up // Living it right // Living each day // One day at a time // Ain’t making no worry no bigger than it is when it isn’t,” He sings, and you can almost feel him smiling. “Gonna take a sweet sip of whatever life’s fixing // It’s a good day for living.”

On the album’s opener, the tongue-in-cheek “Brokenhearted,” Nichols muses over fiddle and steel that country music these days is just a bit too full of parties and happiness. He’s turning on the radio in search of something to cry to and instead, he’s finding hooking up, South beach, tans, and parties. “Ain’t no crying in your beer // Ain’t no she walked out the door,” He muses. “Ain’t nobody brokenhearted // In country music anymore.”

Another of the album’s highlights is the duet with Blake Shelton, “I Got Friends Who Do,” a single-worthy ode to having friends in high places. On the fun up-tempo, the pair trade verses like old buddies, singing about all the favors they can call in from friends, tongues firmly planted in cheeks. “It’s all about who you know,” Shelton sings. “I’ve got friends everywhere I go.”

“That’s How I Grew Up” tells the story of his younger days, admitting “most things I learned the hard way, but that’s how I grew up.” The story is a familiar country tale of dirt roads and church pews, Nichols singing, “I grew up in a back seat // On a back road // With the one that got away // Grew up in a back pew of an old church // Where I learned Amazing Grace // Make no mistake that I wouldn’t change // Who I am or who I was // Most things I learned the hard way // But that’s how I grew up.”

“Home Run,” written by Ashley Gorley, Dallas Davidson, and Ross Copperman, is just that. It’s Nichols doing what he does best, painting a picture with his voice. This time it’s a picture of longing for home, the lyrics put a unique spin on the term “home run.” Here, he’s ready to call it quits and hit the road to home. “It’s time I hit a home run // Point it toward that south sun // I’ll be touching bases with them faces // All them places I ain’t been too in way too long // ‘Cause I’ve been way too gone // Swinging for the fences I’ve been missing where I come from // It’s time I hit a home run”

Interestingly, Good Day For Living includes a handful of tracks that were previously released by other artists including “Brokenhearted” (William Michael Morgan), “Why Can’t She” (Adam Craig), “Reckon” (Adam Craig), “She Was” (Mark Chestnutt),  and “Hawaii on Me” (Chris Janson). In an interview, Nichols says that he rarely knows who wrote a song before recording it, and that he checks for songs to pass an “acoustic test” before deciding to record it. Basically, if the song can stand up lyrically with only an acoustic guitar in a room full of people, then it’s one he wants.

Two of the album’s most clever tracks lyrically are “Reckon” and “Why Can’t She,” both penned and previously released by the incredibly talented Adam Craig.  On the former, he puts a clever spin on words, as he reckons with what an ex is doing after he wrecked her heart. Then on “Why Can’t She,” he’s wondering why a woman can’t forgive him when God can, as the song builds in dramatic fashion. “God, tonight I’m calling out // But just a prayer ain’t saving me // I can’t undo the wrong I’ve done // But I know that // You can see // My heart’s full of regret// That’s why I’m down here on my knees // So if You can forgive me // Why can’t she?”

Nichols embraces mortality in a unique way on both “Hawaii on Me” and “She Was.” On the former, co-written by Chris Janson, he tells those who love him not to mourn when he passes, but to celebrate his life. He doesn’t want them to waste his money being sad, but instead wants them to go to Hawaii with that cash. “Put your feet in the sand // Buy you a coke // Raise it on up // Crack a good joke // Tiptoes in the water // And ashes to sea // Yeah, when I die // Go to Hawaii on me.” Meanwhile, on the album’s closing track, “She Was,” he sings of a mother, living selflessly before leaving the world. “If there ever was a picture of love,” He sings. “She was.”

On Good Day For Living, Joe Nichols has nothing to prove. Yet, he still proves why he’s one of country music’s most enduring voices, putting his own modern traditional spin on a wide array of songs and stories. There’s something for everyone here, from the sarcastic “Brokenhearted” through the bittersweet “She Was,” with everything from a Blake Shelton duet to a “Home Run” in-between. And it’s a home run, indeed.

Good Day For Living Tracklist:

  1. “Brokenhearted” (Rhett Akins, Marv Green, John Thomas Harding)
  2. “I Got Friends That Do” (feat. Blake Shelton) (Danick Dupelle, Tebey Ottoh, Jimmy Thow)
  3. “Home Run”* (Ashley Gorley, Dallas Davidson, Ross Copperman)
  4. “Dance With the Girl” (Jason Gantt, John Pierce, Emily Shackelton)
  5. “I Wanna Be Your Tonight” (Philip O’Donnell, Wade Kirby, Marv Green)
  6. “Good Day For Living” (Dave Cohen, Bobby Hambrick, Neil Mason)
  7. “Screened In” (Neil Thrasher, Anthony Jerome Martin)
  8. “That’s How I Grew Up” (Steven McMorran, Josh London, Adam Craig)
  9. “Reckon” (Derek George, Randy Montana, Jeremy Stover)
  10. “Why Can’t She” (Adam Craig, Jon Nite, Matt Rogers)
  11. “One Two Step Closer”* (Justin Lantz, Clint Daniels, Lance Miller)
  12. “Hawaii on Me”^ (Chris Janson, Will Nance, Kelly Roland)
  13. “She Was” (Neal Lee Coty, Jimmy Edward Melton)

Joe Nichols’ ‘Good Day For Living’ album is out now

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Good Day For Living is available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released tunes on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.