New Country: Vince Gill — ‘Okie’

Vince Gill — Okie

Singer-songwriter Vince Gill’s new album, Okie, is more than just about his roots. It’s also about where those roots have traveled and grown.

What a voice. Still. It is raw Vince Gill. No collaborative duets, no song-stealing guitar solos, no obvious “singles”… just the man and his music. Did I say “just”? Let’s face it, Vince Gill sharing twelve new songs is about as good as it gets.

Although it reaches beyond the mere “country” genre, Okie delivers songs of sentiment inherent in country culture: love, family ties, hope, kindness, redemption. It’s as if Gill has decided that if, just if, country music as he knows it might possibly disappear, then he wants to share a few insights about it to the next, tradition-starved generation of country singer/songwriters. It is an act of courage and generosity, and it showcases the essence of Gill as a conduit for the best that country offers.

The album, Gill’s first album since 2016’s Down to My Last Bad Habit, makes a statement about those who have inspired him. It asks questions worth asking, often leaving the response to the listener. Along the way it touches emotions and conveys an interior view of Gill’s current state. The strongest track, “Forever Changed,” begins with the kind of piano introduction that warns you to prepare for a classic Vince Gill vocal. Telling a story of sexual abuse, the song inhabits a low key intensity that lingers far beyond its playing time.

Other highlights include tips of the hat to two different songwriters who greatly influenced Gill. “Nothin’ Like a Guy Clark Song” is a gentle tune that delivers phrasing reflective of the best of the Texas troubadour. In “A World Without Merle,” Gill calls the Hag his all-time favorite and reminds us of how much we all loved the songs he lived and eventually sang about.

If you’re looking for big, hooky choruses, or pop anthems, keep looking. But if you long for a fearless album, full of absolutely nothing that distracts from the song and its message, from one of the most consistent country artists around, your search is over with Okie. It is one of the most obvious downloads around for true fans of actual country music.

To purchase this album on iTunes, click here.

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