Nearly three years since his last album, Randy Houser released his latest album Magnolia. It was set to be released in the fall of 2018, but ended up getting delayed which makes me assume that he wasn’t satisfied with the final product and wanted to fine tune it.
Houser is intentional with this album. He’s intentional with the lyrics. He’s intentional with the background vocals. He’s intentional about the musical sound of each and every song. If you’re hoping to hear the “Runnin’ Out of Moonlight” Randy Houser, this isn’t the album for you. But you need to give it a listen. As the “bro-country” fad continues to disappear, Houser realized he might have strayed too far from who he was.
He was concerned that his shows and music were becoming too much about entertainment and all of the extra things, rather than the music itself. He wasn’t sure his label would like the change in direction so he was ready to pony up the funds to record this next batch of songs. Luckily for him, his label loved the idea and was behind him on the idea.
On Magnolia, Houser knows who he is and truly showcases his musical talents. There’s authentic country sounds such as a harmonica that we don’t really hear in today’s country. There’s a blues feel to some of the tracks, yet there are some that still have the appeal to get spins on country radio.
It might be a bit of a different sounding Randy Houser, but it sure is a helluva good sounding Randy Houser.
The album starts out with a classic Randy Houser song with “No Stone Unturned.” Talking about living life in the moment and to the fullest, it’s the perfect opening track. Lucie Silvas joins him on “Our Hearts,” a love ballad that you can picture being sung around a campfire. He is then joined by megastar songwriter Hillary Lindsey on “What Whiskey Does.” It’s a song about trying to get over someone and literally letting the whiskey call the shots of whether or not to move on or reconnect with that special someone.
“Whole Lotta Quit” is a blue collar anthem that with the harmonica sounds like it could be a 90s Brooks & Dunn song. Houser gets very vulnerable in “No Good Place to Cry,” which is a downer of a song to describe going through a heartbreak. He then pivots to a completely different song with “New Buzz.” It’s a fun play on words as he describes the new buzz you get when you meet someone for the first time.
Houser lists off all of his favorite things that doesn’t compare to his love interest in “Nothin’ On You,” a simple message love song that works for him. “What Leaving Looks Like” is an emotional song about the end of a relationship as he can see the writing on the wall. You can feel the raw emotion he puts into this one. You can’t get more country than “High Time,” as he sings about tipping one back after a long work week enjoying ones own company.
He gets a little wild with a trouble maker song in “Mamma Don’t Know.” Let’s be honest, we all have a little trouble maker in us. Even the innocent ones. One of my favorite songs on the album is “Running Man.” It’s inspirational and powerful. Naturally, one can infer that this a song Houser holds close to his heart as he navigates the country music industry. Houser concludes the album with “Evangeline,” a nostalgic song about his time in college. Houser shared that he and his buddies would skip classes and head down to spend a weekend in New Orleans. Evangeline is the name of a New Orleans and it clearly holds a special place in his heart.