Self-discovery. It is a lifelong journey for all of us, and the journey is different for each of us. As each day passes, we learn a little more about who we are, and the direction in which we’re headed. This is certainly true for Joey Allcorn, and it is made evident by the lyrics of the opening track of his new album, All Alone Again. While the track, “Honky Tonkin Ramblin’ Man”, may seem to be a simple lively honky tonk number on the surface, much more can be interpreted from Allcorn’s words. He knows what he likes: “songs about murder, drinkin, God, drugs, and jail”. He knows what he is: “just a hillbilly singer with a five-piece band”. And perhaps, most importantly, he knows what he is not: “the rebel front man of an outlaw band”.
"I'm not a rebel or an outlaw or anything like that," says Allcorn. " I just make the kind of country music that I like. I'm not trying to re-invent the wheel or do anything revolutionary, I just want to write songs and make records for people who enjoy authentic country music."
All Alone Again, is an authentic reflection of who Joey Allcorn is as a songwriter and as a performer. Instead of making an album with an “underground scene” in mind, he instead made the wise decision to make a record with himself in mind. The result is a cohesive, polished product that reflects not the artist that Allcorn wants to be, but the artist that he is. The album borrows heavily from tradition, but does so in an honest way that makes it accessible to today’s listeners that crave that timeless blend of authenticity, fiddle, and steel.
Perhaps Joey Allcorn’s greatest musical love is the country love song, and he can discuss cheatin’ hearts in the form of an upbeat toe-tapper or of a classic weeper. Plenty of both can be found on All Alone Again. On the upbeat side, there are songs like “Huntsville”, a sarcasm-laced send-off to lady-friend who has up and left him for another man. “The Next Time We Break Up”, a final warning to indecisive lover, could easily be mistaken for a lost Buck Owens song. Another kind of warning, the kind to a guy thinking about confessing his love to a girl, is stated in “Don’t Start Thinkin Like That”. And the Harlan Howard-esque “I’d Be Over You By Now” finds Allcorn in the middle of a classic “aw shucks” moment, knowing he should have exited a relationship long before it reached its unfortunate end.
It’s a good thing these upbeat songs are present on All Alone Again because Allcorn’s “crying time” numbers on this record are the best he’s ever penned. He summons his inner-Hank Williams to deliver the very clever “Just Another Song”, and displays a yodel that Jimmie Rodgers would be proud of on the album’s closing title track. Both deal with broken hearts and loneliness, but some tracks have an even darker aura. Death seems to lurk around every corner, especially on songs like “Six Feet Down”, which will remind listeners of the star-crossed lovers of Edgar Allan Poe’s timeless poem “Annabelle Lee”, and the eerie “Honky Tonk Hell”, in which a haunted juke box and "dead men singing" set the scene.
This makes sense, as Allcorn’s heroes are never far from his mind, and on All Alone Again, he recruited many of the musicians who recorded with his legendary heroes. Fiddle-master Hank Singer, who currently tours with George Jones, Lloyd Green, the most recorded pedal steel guitarist in history and bassist Dave Rowe from Johnny Cash's last touring band were brought on board, as was Drifting Cowboy steel-guitarist Don Helms. Helms passed away in August of 2008, and All Alone Again features some of his final recording sessions. Combine these legendary musicians with modern masters like Johnny Hiland, and Chris Scruggs, and you have just the right sonic mix for the authentic country brilliance that brings Allcorn’s musical vision to life.
As he sings in “Lonesome, Lovesick Man”, Joey Allcorn seems to understand he is living a predestined life. It could really be the theme song for not only the album, but for his own journey of self-discovery. He has been dressing in 1950sstyle western suits on stage for years, but finally on All Alone Again, he completely embraces his true identity as the lonesome, lovesick man he discusses in song. Sure it’s hard, but like he says in “Waitin’ By the Railroad Tracks”, “I ain’t complainin’ ‘cause that’s my life”. At 28 years young, it can be said that Joey Allcorn knows who he is as an artist, and he is intent on showing anyone that’ll take the time to listen. In an era when finding authentic music is like discovering a needle in a haystack, All Alone Again is an incredible breath of fresh air.
- Jared Morningstar