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Ernest - Nashville, Tennessee

Veering from classic country to ‘90s rock and rap with a dash of ‘80s synths, it's an album that, like any good political campaign, manages to be deliberately diverse in sound and appeal, yet confidently cohesive in message.

Album - Ernest - Nashville, Tennessee
April 11, 2024 4:09 pm GMT
Last Edited April 12, 2024 10:49 am GMT

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Ernest - Nashville, Tennessee

Label: Big Loud Records

Producer: Joey Moi

Release Date: April 12, 2024


1. I Went To College / I Went To Jail (feat. Jelly Roll)
2. Ain’t As Easy
3. Why Dallas (feat. Lukas Nelson)
4. One More Heartache
5. Hangin’ On (feat. Morgan Wallen)
6. Did It For The Story
7. How’d We Get Here
8. Never Said I Love You
9. Would If I Could (feat. Lainey Wilson)
10. Honkytonk Fairytale
11. Smokin’ Gun
12. Twinkle Twinkle (Live At Fenway Park) [feat. Ryman Saint]
13. Life Goes On
14. If You Don’t Know By Now
15. You Don’t Have To Die
16. Redneck Sh*ttt
17. Small Town Goes
18. Kiss Of Death
19. Slow Dancing In A Burning Room
20. Ain’t Too Late
21. Sayin’ You Love Me
22. Summertime Flies
23. Ain’t Right Ain’t Wrong
24. Creep (feat. Hardy)
25. Bars On My Heart
26. Dollar To Cash

“Ernest for Mayor”; that’s the campaign slogan of his new album, Nashville, Tennessee, declaring that “all country music fans are welcome” against the backdrop of a mock political run.

In many ways, it’s easy to see country music as a microcosm of the bitterly divided political landscape of the United States; the staunch traditionalists standing firm against a new wave that challenges the very fundamentals of those traditions, while the middle ground is increasingly pushed out. So how do you unite a broken community, full of infighting, isolationism and identity politics?

This album, however serious, is Ernest’s manifesto. It cleverly paces its 26 songs so that, just as the classically smooth honky tonk heartbreak songs begin to blend into each other like an endless parade of politicians kissing babies, it throws in surprises so suddenly that you slip on the syrup dripping from Ernest’s voice. Veering from classic country to ‘90s rock and rap with a dash of ‘80s synths, it creates an album that, like any good political campaign, manages to be deliberately diverse in sound and appeal, yet confidently cohesive in message.

But does, “Can’t we all just get along?” really cut it as a political campaign slogan aimed at such a deeply divided community in 2024? It would be a much more watery rallying call were it not for Ernest being so masterful at each style he approaches.

Launching straight into his campaign as a man of the people, he kicks off with the Jelly Roll duet, ‘I Went To College/I Went To Jail’, A straight-shooting, country-comedy song, it gets to the heart of the message by emphasising the commonalities that unite them against a divisive setting. “Both sons of sinners”, he sings, “who could’ve figured, who could have known that we’d both wind up working down on Music Row”.

We continue on with Ernest the crooner, the broad appeal found in the easy listening, old timey sounds of the lush ‘Ain’t As Easy’, the Lukas Nelson duet ‘Why Dallas’ – which even manages to make Nelson’s voice seem smoother by proxy – and the fiddle packed ‘One More Heartache’, with its smart vocal layering.

It’s here that we’re met with our first significant gear change of many, in the form of the Morgan Wallen duet, ‘Hangin’ On’. You’re lifted out of Ernest’s world of oiled smiles, coiffed hair and megawatt charm into a frantic, anxiety-inducing backbeat with relentlessly repetitive vocals. Then, it’s on to the strangely cinematic, Instagram caption worthy ‘Did It For The Story’, dramatically backed by an ‘80s electric guitar. Later, we’re delivered punctuators like ‘Twinkle Twinkle’, a duet with Ernest’s son, Ryman. After all, there’s no vote winner quite like a family man.

The truly divisive interlude on the album is ‘Redneck Sh*ttt’. Ernest revisits his days as a Soundcloud rapper, sounding like a boy in his bedroom in the ‘90s rapping over a turned down sample of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ so as not to disturb mum and dad. Even the detractors will have to admit, it’s devilishly catchy.

As attention grabbers, they’re effective, and after each of these gear changes, we’re dropped back into comfortingly familiar sounds. Ernest’s voice is chameleonic, deliberately shifting to channel trusted fathers of country music like Roger Miller and Willie Nelson on ‘How’d We Get Here?’. The heavenly Lainey Wilson duet, ‘Would If I Could’, is torn from the Kenny and Dolly playbook, and even a cover of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ with Hardy gets run through a time machine, sounding like it was ripped from Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox.

Album closer ‘Dollar to Cash’ hammers home its point: “Play some Loretta, dial up some Jones, don’t rock the jukebox, play old country songs”, he says sarcastically. It’s like waking up after election day and realising the party’s over and it’s business as usual. It’s a wildly inventive ride, one that triumphs in the end.


Ernest’s 2024 project, Nashville, Tennessee, is available everywhere on April 12 via Big Loud Records.

For more on Ernest, see below:

Written by Holly Smith
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