By Aaron Wagner
I love me some collaborations. I think every album needs at least one, preferably a few. Once in awhile as fans we get lucky and an artist decides to release an entire project that features collaborations with other artists. And thanks to Jimmie Allen, that’s exactly what we got this past weekend.
Featuring the biggest names in music, Jimmie Allen’s Bettie & James EP shows off how respected Jimmie is across music. On one hand he’s on a song with Nelly and then the next song he’s singing with Tim McGraw, while bringing in a rising country artist in Mickey Guyton to sing a duet on another.
Named after his grandmother and father, Bettie & James gives fans a better idea as to who he is as an artist and the types of sounds and artists that influenced him growing up.
Jimmie kicks off the project with Nelly. Nelly isn’t new to country collaborations as he’s teamed up with Tim McGraw and Florida Georgia Line in the past. “Good Times Roll” is arguably the catchiest song on the EP as it’s one that you can listen to with the windows rolled down rolling around town or at a party.
I think Mickey Guyton has one of the best voices in country music. People just haven’t heard her yet, but Jimmie has and thank goodness he included her on “Drunk & I Miss You”, a sexual tension-filled song about former lovers.
The EP continues with two more collaborations with Tim McGraw and Brad Paisley. “Made For These” has Tim and Jimmie singing about fighting through pain and the tough times to get to the other side. Brad joins Jimmie on a youthful nostalgia song in “Freedom Was a Highway.” Both songs are so dang good that if they were sent to radio I have no doubt they’d have success.
My personal favorite on the entire project is “Why Things Happen.” The song starts off with Darius Rucker before Charley Pride continues on the first verse and eventually Jimmie comes in during the first chorus. The three trade off throughout the song and it’s such a beautiful blend of their voices and it makes the song special as they sing about the tough life questions that everyone has.
A collaboration nobody could’ve seen coming was Jimmie teaming up with Rita Wilson, Tauren Wells, and The Oak Ridge Boys. Country music has always been close to Christian and gospel music and the message that our time on earth is short hits home on “When This Is Over.” Listening to the song you wonder where The Oak Ridge Boys are but their appearance in the outro is absolutely hair raising.
The EP wraps up with Jimmie’s current single to radio. Featuring Noah Cyrus, “This Is Us” is a bonafide hit that is sure to find it’s way into the Top 10 at radio, if not, higher.
While Bettie & James isn’t the typical album that we’ve come to expect from artists, that’s what makes this project from Jimmie Allen so special. He wasn’t going for commercial success. While his first album was successful with two #1s, Jimmie decided to make music for the sake of being creative and enjoying making music with friends and his contemporaries.
And for that, I tip my hat to Jimmie Allen.