n the liner notes to her new album, Trisha Yearwood writes:
“That’s the way home is. I’m lucky that my name is on the ‘Welcome to Monticello’ sign, and I’m proud to say that one of the prettiest streets in town is called the Trisha Yearwood Parkway. … Thank you for my childhood, and for always making me feel welcome at home. I’m proud to be from Monticello, Georgia. This is for you, Jasper County… Love, Patricia”
That sums up so much of not just who Yearwood is, but also what Jasper County’s like—and where it comes from.
Trisha Yearwood is, definitely and defiantly, a country girl. Faith Hill can declare what a “Mississippi Girl” she is until her lungs give way, but she’ll never be half as country as Yearwood, who’s always stayed true to her roots. This manifests itself on Jasper County largely as a bluesy sensibility; most of the 11 songs collected here are touched by the blues. That varies from the rollicking, barroom feel on a pair of Al Anderson/Leslie Satcher songs (“Pistol” and “It’s Alright”) to the soupy southern soul of “Sweet Love,” from the misfit tale “Standing Out in a Crowd” to the gorgeous remember-when ballad “Georgia Rain” (which has backing vocals from her fiancé, Garth Brooks).
This is by far the strongest set of songs Yearwood’s recorded in a career now nearly 15 years along. Lead single “Georgia Rain” is but one standout, a different look at the same topic covered by Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine” years ago (and one that’s produced a number of fine additions to the country canon), its last verse ending
You fixed your daddy’s house up niceThe longing and remembrance in the song’s lyric swell in Yearwood’s vocal, echoed by Brooks’ harmony line and the Nashville String Machine’s gorgeous gush. Plenty of singers attempt songs along these lines, but few can make them as real as Yearwood does, seemingly so effortlessly.
I saw it yesterday when I drove by
Looks like you’ve made yourself a real good life
What else can I say?
“Who Invented the Wheel” is cut from an entirely different bolt of cloth, yet fits on Jasper County just as note-perfectly as “Georgia Rain.” It’s about blaming whoever invented the wheel, the steel, the blacktop, the time, which, together, took her man away. Yearwood delivers the song as a smoldering slab of Stax-country, were there such a thing, and makes you wish there was.
Yearwood titled her third album The Song Remembers When, a phrase all too apt for her entire body of work. Her song-vetting abilities are nearly unparalleled in Nashville circles, and Jasper County presents more sterling additions to her already sterling catalog. It’s a diverse batch of songs that she brings together as a consistent set, showcasing Yearwood as not just a fine singer, but also a just-gets-better-and-better artist. Jasper County marks another high point in a career full of them.