Gary Nicholson and Whitey Johnson
The Great Divide, and More Days Like This (Blue Corn Music)
Reviewed by Tim Stegall, Fri., July 5, 2019
Texan journeyman Gary Nicholson's bashed garage-rock guitar in the Sixties, fronted folk/bluegrass aces Uncle Jim's Music followed by Delbert McClinton's blues busters in the Seventies, and has written massive country hits for everyone from Waylon and Willie to Vince Gill and Brad Paisley since the Eighties. The Great Divide now continues his Americana salve for a seemingly irreparable nation. It ripples with acoustic guitars, violins, and Hammond organ, Nicholson's almost-cracking tenor caressing woebegone words on recent throat-ripping interrelations. A cynical rewrite of a certain Kate Smith patriotic anthem, retitled "God Help America," sets a despairing tone in duet with Ruthie Foster, but highlights "We Are One" and "Choose Love" prove Nicholson is eternally optimistic. A sunnier, funkier disc comes simultaneously from his white-blues alter ego, Whitey Johnson. Think more classic soul and R&B than rootsy Americana genre, despite a closing trio of Jimmy Reed-esque shuffles, including wry, brighter-side-of-divorce anthem "Upside of Lonely," featuring a McClinton harmonica cameo. Otherwise, the Impressions' light, saucy timbre guides title track "More Days Like This," sustaining through Brook Benton-esque McClinton/Guy Clark co-write "Starting a Rumor" and all 10 total grooves. More Days Like This isn't a party album, but rather a fun, upbeat, blue-eyed Southern soul stirring.