Country Jukebox Jury LP: Alexander Ludwig – Highway 99

In May 2021, Alexander released a self-titled EP which featured songs which reminded me of ‘Kenny Chesney singing Jason Aldean songs’, all the more pertinent because producers Kurt and Tully both play in Aldean’s band.

The album begins with Sunset Town, an Aldeanish tune about love and stuff that was also on that EP. Other songs making it over from EP to LP include: Summer Crazy, basically a rewrite of Summertime; carpe diem song Love Today, which has a nice line about ‘a fresh coat of paint’; How It Rolls, which describes true love as ‘honey off of your tongue’; and Malibu Blue, which compares a girl to ‘the brightest star on the boulevard’. This reminds us that Alexander’s day job is as an actor in, among other shows, Vikings.

Let Me Be Your Whiskey, which closes the album, was a standalone single from 2020 and sums up the musical sound of the album. Over a smouldering guitar part, Alexander sings about ‘something strong to forget about someone gone’. It sounds like he’d go down as smoothly as old Jim Beam.

The 10 new songs build on themes from the EP. Faded On Me, written by the A-List trio of Jon Nite, Ross Copperman and Josh Osborne, made its way to Alexander from the big shelf of songs. It hits all the commercial country beats: nagging riff, a narrator whose ‘true north is Tennessee’ and a melodic chorus that includes nouns like ‘town’, ‘heart’, ‘shots’, ‘girls’ and ‘heartache’.

That’s The Life I Want actually uses the line ‘Couldn’t dream it up in Hollywood’ to describe the sort of idyll that country folk live, while Rough Around The Edges sounds like a TV theme tune for a show about small-town folk. Like She Wanted To is an innocent love song set at a riverbank where the heroine of the song has both alcohol and agency.

201 Melrose Avenue is a midtempo thinkin’ song where our narrator deliberates calling an old flame but never goes through with it. Can’t Outrun You is another moving-on song with a rockier feel which reminds the listener that ‘there’s nothing faster than a memory’. Ditto Back, a song which has been written hundreds of times, not least I Go Back by Kenny Chesney; there’s a nice line about Alexander not getting his jean jacket back, but it’s a songwriting exercise with an Adult Contemporary Country arrangement.

If You Don’t I Do has a nagging melody and a lyric about having a good time, and That Kinda Love is a horny chugger. It is one of a number of songs that mentions dust, roads and having the ‘windows down’. After You is a beautiful tune which deserves a wide audience, as Alexander sighs that every woman will not come close to her.

The album sounds country and will please those fans who live in either Aldean Nation or No Shoes Nation. This is like a turnpike album, one which is adjacent to the main thoroughfare where Chesney and Aldean live: Turnpike Country.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: