Texas neo-outlaw Pat Green, who is one of the Lone Star State's brightest indiebilly heroes, rose from the rough and rowdy bar-band scene into the lower-middle rungs of the commercial Top Country world. The dusty-haired, now-craggy cowboy has had an uneasy relationship with mainstream success, tenuous mostly in the quality of the music it's produced; but fans of old Jerry Jeff Walker records might enjoy this guy: he's got the same loosey-goosey laconic sensibility, and it's nice to hear some of that easygoing Texas spirit hitting the airwaves now and then. Here's a quick look at his work...
Pat Green "Dancehall Dreamer" (Self-Released/Universal, 1995)
Pat Green "George's Bar" (Greenhorse/Universal, 1997)
A fine, funny album... This early effort is decidedly uncommercial, and shows him as he must've sounded when he was starting out. There's an absolute, and slightly embarrassing, debt to Jerry Jeff Walker (which is fine) as well as to the wordy, discursive style of Robert Earl Keen, Jr. (which I find less enchanting...) There are also hints of things to come, but mostly this is a low-key, laidback, off-the-radar affair. Americana stalwart Lloyd Maines produced the album; his Dixie Chick daughter Natalie throws on a fine harmony on one song, "Snowing On Raton," one of many fine songs on here.
Pat Green "Here We Go" (Universal, 1998)
Pat Green "Live At Billy Bob's" (Smith Music Group, 1999)
Rompin' and stompin' his way through a nice live set, to appreciative fans in Fort Worth's most cavernous honkytonk, Green straddles both sides of the commercial/indie fence, playing rowdy songs with a smooth finesse. The guitars sound a little too clean and echo-y, but this boy was definitely ready for prime time, as this disc shows. And his fans -- I'm sure a bunch of them drove up from Austin! -- really dig him. A nice document of early work by this now-Nashville, rootsy second stringer. (Man, that is some butt-ugly album art, though...!)
Pat Green "Carry On" (Greenhorse, 2000)
(Produced by Lloyd Maines)
Independently produced versions of songs that were fleshed out more fully on Green's subsequent major label debut... Texas mainstay Lloyd Maines produced this disc, and while the mix falls a little flat, this is a nice slice of this guys musical past -- fans will wanna track this one down, although the versions that emerged on the Three Days album are mighty fine as well.
Pat Green & Cory Morrow "Songs We Wish We'd Written" (Greenhorse, 2000)
(Produced by Lloyd Maines)
A swell set of outlaw ballads and alt-country anthems, from Waylon's "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way" to John Prine's "Paradise," with some stuff by Steve Fromholtz, Townes Van Zandt... heck, they even cover "Stuck In The Middle With You," by Steeler's Wheel, and keep it almost as fun as the original. Green shows his roots, and they run pretty deep. This is a nice indie effort by a fella sort of in the Nashville orbit...
Pat Green "Three Days" (Republic/Universal, 2001)
(Produced by Lloyd Maines & Greg Ladanyi)
Graduating from indie-ish outlaw musings into a major label deal, Pat Green made the most of his Top 40 debut... This is a clever, catchy set of smooth-sailing, irony-tinged honkytonk songs, occasionally laced with David Lindley-ish slide guitars. Green affectionately toys around with the country outlaw/loser mythology -- and with Willie Nelson there to back him up (literally, on "Threadbare Gypsy Soul"), who's to say him nay? The melodies and arrangements get increasingly formulaic as the album goes on, but on balance, this is a pretty intelligent and rootsy album, particularly for a Nashville release. Perversely, the single, "Carry On" has a big, old curse word in the album version, which might account in some small part for Green's lack of mainstream recognition... But for folks looking for a Jerry Jeff-ish twist on the Top 40 formula, this is an album to check out.
Pat Green "Wave On Wave" (Universal South, 2003)
Although on the title track (and others on this album) Green seems to be succumbing to the too-dense, overly slick, rock-oriented production that currently grips Nashville, his band still has the feel of youngsters who respect country traditions, yet are rooted in modern rock sensibilities as well. It has a more organic feel than many Nashville Top 40 acts (Shania, etc.) where the rock riffs seem gratuitously added on, like production by committee or marketing charts, rather than by a band that actually feels something when it plays. Sure, the U2-isms are a little out of place, but Green and his music still have a solid, organic feel to it, like there's someone real behind it, and who can still let his rough side drag a while. Not as outright enjoyable as his last album, but still worth checking out.
Pat Green "Lucky Ones" (Universal South, 2004)
(Produced by Don Gehman)
Once a standardbearer of the Texas indie scene, the dusty-haired, now-craggy Pat Green has had an uneasy relationship with mainstream success, tenuous mostly in the quality of the music it's produced. Although Green still champions talented but lesser-known songwriters such as Ray Wylie Hubbard, Jack Ingram and Irene Kelley, as well as fellow commercial-yet-hard country artists such as Radney Foster, Brad Paisley and Trent Summar (who all contribute songs to this record), the production on his albums is remarkably busy and high-tech... There seems to be little musical center to what he does these days; his albums sound like he's working with producers, rather than with a band. This latest album is a good example -- it's less overtly poppy than last year's Wave On Wave, but still pretty high-tech to sit comforatbly with the twangcore crowd. Some songs have glimmers of the Jerry Jeff-ish raffishness that was once Green's chosen style, but the bad-boy rowdiness seems a bit forced, and buried under an increasingly confused attempt to hit the charts again... Not sure, really, how I feel about this one... there's stuff on it that I wanted to like a lot more than I did, and Green still has plenty of stylistic rough spots and vocal imperfections that give him cred as far as folks like me are concerned... But there's very little in the way of a good, pure, fiddle-and-steel honkytonk song that you can really lose yourself in and sing along to... So I guess it's disappointing in that regard. I plan to hang onto this and give it a few listens further down the line, and see how I feel then...
Pat Green "Cannonball" (BNA, 2006)
Pat Green "What I'm For" (BNA, 2009)
Hick Music Index