Cody Johnson : Leather Review
Leather: Cody Johnson Stays Country and Solid
Much of modern country music is all about the glitzy allure of pop influences, which often threatens to overshadow the genre’s rustic roots. Cody Johnson’s latest album, Leather, is a steadfast beacon of tradition. Released on November 3, 2023, under Warner Music Nashville, this 12-track project presents a narrative that weaves through the heartlands of emotion, tradition, and the unfiltered soul of country music with acoustic instruments and unadulterated vocals.
Right off the bat, the album’s thematic diversity is striking. With his signature commanding yet harmonious voice, Johnson delves into realms as varied as religion, an ode to his fans, familial bonds, and, of course, the spirited Texan pride anthems. This thematic flow is deliberate, reflecting Johnson’s evolution as an artist. It’s a follow-up to his Gold-certified album Human, and it seems Johnson has retained and refined his musical essence.
Let’s talk about the collaborations, shall we? The track “Long Live Country Music,” featuring Brooks and Dunn, is like a study in harmony, a seamless blend that feels like a musical conversation among old friends. Johnson’s respect for these icons is palpable and reciprocated beautifully. The Jelly Roll collaboration, on the other hand, is intriguing. It’s an unexpected blend, jarring in the context of Johnson’s typical style, yet it shows his willingness to experiment, to step outside the comfort zone of traditional country music.
The album’s emotional core, however, lies in tracks like “Watching My Old Flame.” Here, Johnson’s storytelling ability shines through in his singing. The imagery of a woman getting ready, her allure accentuated by the classic symbols of a black dress and red lipstick, is more than visual; it’s a narrative device that captures the essence of unrequited longing and the poignant resignation of lost love. Johnson’s voice carries the melody and weight of these emotions, making every note feel like a chapter in a beautifully sad story.
“Dirt Cheap” is another standout. In an era where the genre often gravitates towards the electrifying sounds of pop-country, this track is a refreshing return to the basics. It’s Johnson and his raw, unadulterated country voice, celebrating the genre’s roots. The song isn’t just a melody; it’s a narrative about the intrinsic value of land and memory, juxtaposing the tangible and the intangible, the material and the emotional.
In summary, Leather is a statement. It’s Cody Johnson saying, “This is who I am; this is what I stand for.” There’s no filler here; every track is solid and shows Johnson’s commitment to quality and consistency. It reflects a man who knows his roots and isn’t afraid to explore new territories while holding on to the essence of what makes him unique. As a listener, I enjoyed Leather; it’s a solid experience, and in that experience, you find a piece of yourself, of your own stories and emotions. That, my friends, is the magic of Cody Johnson.
November 3, 2023
Warner Music Nashville