From The 9513
Album Review: Brandon Kinney – Smells Like Texas
Pierce Greenberg | December 15th, 2008
Unlike his former Belmont University classmate Brad Paisley, Brandon Kinney is going to be hard-pressed to find his name plastered on any school brochures or billboards.
Kinney’s debut album Smells Like Texas (which was picked up, then dropped, by Capitol Records) represents a comedic brand of thoughtful, inoffensive, yet politically incorrect country music. In other words, this ain’t your mom and pop’s country. Unless of course your mom’s in prison and your pops has had one too many unfortunate encounters with a “misleading,” cross-dressing gentleman.
It’s pretty clear that the songs on Smells Like Texas can be separated into one of two categories: songs that are simply going for laughs, or songs that have some kind of underlying social commentary (but still produce plenty of laughs).
In the first category, there is the clever “Redneck, Black Bra, White T-Shirt,” which highlights the story of Kinney finding his dream girl. Despite being co-written by Nashville hit maker Craig Wiseman, this isn’t your typical “country girls are hot” or “country girls are country” tune. Instead, Kinney takes a more indirect approach at the subject, weaving in lines like “She might be someone I could take right home to mama/if mama weren’t home when we got there.” The song really shines, however, because it manages to avoid objectifying women. Unlike Trace Adkins’ infamous ode to posteriors, at least Kinney’s song goes beyond the surface to say that this lady is a great gal and fishing partner (even if she is on work release…).
Another song that goes for pure laughs is the innuendo-laden “Smoker,” an ode to cookers. “Smoker” operates in the same way as Alan Jackson’s “First Love” from his album Drive. The oh-so-family-friendly Alan Jackson leads us on to believe that his first love was an older woman, before revealing that it was, of course, a car. Kinney does the same thing here, but in raunchier fashion. Kinney meets his “girl” in a Wal-Mart parking lot, says she has a great rack, and he can’t wait to go home and try her out with his wife. Kinney leaves even less room for imagination when he goes on to make a few references towards sticking meat and wood in “her.”
So how could an album with songs about black bras and smokers have any kind of redeeming social commentary? Well, maybe it’s not so redeeming, but look no farther than “Don’t Tell Me,” a song which tackles scamming TV preachers, rising gas prices, Michael Jackson, and free porn–all to prove the point that Jesus must be coming soon. Then there’s “I Need a Beer,” on which Kinney laments about being the last sane person in his town (or the world?). His brother’s got a rainbow sticker on his John Deere, his sister just became his new brother, and his mom was on Girls Gone Wild (with Dad’s approval). If that’s not bad enough, his girlfriend got sentenced for 2-5 years for embezzlement and “They caught her with the prison guard and they weren’t holdin’ hands.”
Someone get this guy a beer.
After 10 songs of unabashed comedy, Kinney throws a curve ball and closes out the album on a poignant note with “Rough Crowd,” a duet with country legend John Anderson. Anderson’s and Kinney’s vocals mesh perfectly and give the ballad an emotional touch. “Rough Crowd” is commanding in that it demands the listener to take note of Kinney’s songwriting skills, and proves that he is more than just a writer with a crude sense of humor.
That being said, Kinney has clearly carved out a unique niche for himself in today’s country music scene. Smells Like Texas, with its decidedly country production and humor, stands as one of the best country comedy albums in recent memory. The only problem is that the majority of the target audience of this material (the same audience shared by comedians Rodney Carrington and Larry the Cable Guy) doesn’t have a feasible way of discovering Kinney. He was signed to Capitol Records for a while (the same label as Carrington), but they never got to releasing his material or promoting him (luckily, his album has been made available online). Kinney’s material has the substance to really make a splash in the comedy world, and hopefully, it will get a chance to do just that.