Closing an 11-year gap between albums, Alecia Nugent,who recorded a trio of excellent bluegrass projects on Rounder Records between 2004 and 2009, returns triumphantly with veteran country producer Keith Stegall (Alan Jackson) at the helm. With a cast of contributing writers and co-writers that includes Tom T. Hall, Erin Enderlin, Carl Jackson, Larry Cordle, Brandy Clark, Nugent herself, and more, The Old Side of Town emphasizes honky-tonk tradition, chronicling bad relationships with both light humor (“Too Bad You’re No Good”) and dark realism (“The Other Woman”). Her true-life tales, including the heartbreaking “Way Too Young for Wings” and the affectionate “They Don’t Make ’Em Like My Daddy Anymore,” may be windows into Nugent’s soul, but her classic country vocals add the context that peers straight into her heart.
The album kicks off with the gutsy Tom T. Hall-written title cut, which pays homage not only to vintage countrybut to Hall and his late wife, Dixie, who employed Nugent as their housekeeper when she first moved to Nashville from Hickory Grove, Louisiana. Having now played the Grand Ole Opry more than 70 times, Nugent’s country cred is solid, but if any additional proof is needed, skip straight to the ’90s throwback, “I Thought He’d Never Leave,” a high-energy kiss-off right through to the extended instrumental break that closes it. As a bonus for her devoted bluegrass audience, there’s also a grassier version of “They Don’t Make ’Em Like My Daddy Anymore.”
I MIGHT HAVE ONE TOO
(Erin Enderlin, Larry Cordle)
“Confession is good for the soul
When the sins you carry are just too heavy to hold He must have had a reason to turn to someone new I might have one too“
Awash in fiddle and steel guitar and delivered in a world-worn voice that crackles with heartache, edged with love and devotion, the songs that populate it make Alecia Nugent’s The Old Side of Town a traditional country music lover’s paradise.
Album review by: Austin Carlyle