Though he’s now a firmly entrenched denizen of Nashville, Vince Gill is a proud Oklahoman at heart. And on his new album, appropriately titled “Okie,” the award-winning singer/songwriter/musician embraces his Oklahoma roots and delves into his life experience with 12 deeply personal tracks. Gill wrote or co-wrote all the songs on the record.
For fans of pure singing, simple yet effective production, and outstanding songwriting, “Okie” should be right up your alley. “I Don’t Wanna Ride the Rails No More” movingly describes a wanderer who’s tired of roaming. The song’s rhythm rolls along slowly and crisply, like a train winding its way around the track. “The whole image of riding a train has such great beauty to it,” Gill noted in a release about the song. “It conjures images of ‘The Grapes of Wrath,’ the Dust Bowl, and people hopping freight trains. This is a song of reflection, yearning and hopefulness.” Equally moving is “A World Without Haggard,” where Gill pays tribute to the country legend who influenced so many of today’s artists.
Family is also a recurring theme on the record. “A Letter To My Mama,” which Gill wrote with legendary writer Dean Dillon, literally sings the praises of the woman who raised him. “When My Amy Prays” was written about Gill’s wife, singer Amy Grant. “I believe that this song features one of the best vocals I’ve ever done,” Gill says, and that would be hard to dispute. Gill gets the message across with his soaring tenor, accompanied only by a piano.
“Okie” also shows Gill in a reflective, socially conscious mood. “Forever Changed,” for instance, deals with sexual abuse and is certainly timely, given some of the headlines in our modern world. “I knew it was important for people to hear,” Gill says. “It’s a real thing and you can’t sweep it under the rug.” Gill also shares a revelation that the story line was based on personal experience. “It’s a story about sexual abuse and grew out of an incident that happened to me in junior high school,” Gill explains. “I was lucky and I escaped, but who knows how my life could have been different had I not gotten away.”
On “Okie,” Gill once again shows his mastery not only as a singer but a powerful songwriter. It’s easily an album that belongs in your collection.
Vince Gill’s new album “Okie” will be released on August 23rd. For more on Vince’s music, visit his website and follow him on social media.