Listen Up: Wednesday, May 24, 2006
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Jarrod Birmingham

No Apologies (Lone Star Music)

By Caroline Collier

There’s a lyric on No Apologies, Jarrod Birmingham’s third full-length disc, that pretty much defines the essence of the entire recording: “If you don’t like me,” the young former professional bull-rider sings at one point, “Then I probably won’t like you.”

Throughout the album, Birmingham takes pot shots at just about everyone — alt-rockers, single mothers, even people who live in Dallas — and he backs up his straight talk with no-nonsense honkytonk.

However, you gotta wonder if Birmingham is really speaking his mind or just parroting Toby Keith and all of the other rednecks who rule the airwaves. There’s nothing on No Apologies that you haven’t heard a million times already on either The Wolf or Fox News. On “Where’d You Go, Country Music?,” the singer-songwriter bemoans the fact that the genre has “crossed over one too many times.” Though what exactly that phrase means is unclear, you can bet it has something to do with mainstream country’s pop and R&B tendencies. (Hey, Jarrod — Johnny Cash called. He wants his opinion back.)

Yet way more offensive than Birmingham’s sordid generalizations is his penchant for passing the buck — ironic, given the album’s title. On “Like My Daddy Did,” the main character doesn’t blame himself for walking out on his family — instead, he blames his father, who also walked out. (“The apple don’t fall far from the tree,” Birmingham sings.) And on “Best I Can,” the reason the singer acts like an asshole is not that he is an asshole but that he’s just a good ol’ boy with “hard-driving music” running through his veins.

And even if the lyrics growl, the sound is awfully inoffensive and generic — swampy guitars, shuffling drums, pedal steel whines, you know the rest.

As for his take on Big D, Fort Worthians might be glad to know that Birmingham is as unimpressed with our neighbor to the East as we are: “If I don’t ever go there,” he sings on “I Don’t Live in Dallas,” “It’ll be all right with me / You’re a whole bunch of yuppies with nothing to do / You keep Isuzu in business / You know it’s true.”

No apologies necessary there, buddy.



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