Jeremy Pinnell Throws Rock and Roll into the Honky Tonk Mix on ‘Goodbye L.A. ‘ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Jeremy Pinnell is a country artist from northern Kentucky. On his first two albums, he rightly earned a reputation as a new-generation honky-tonk hero. His new album is entitled Goodbye L.A. He maintains the honky-tonk sound for which he has become known, but, like Kendall Marvel, he also weaves a fair amount of rock and soul into these new songs. Of the new album, he said, “My idea was that I wanted to write a record that made people happy,” he says. “I want people to dance and have fun and love each other.” 

Pinnell can congratulate himself for accomplishing that particular mission – at least with making people dance. “Nighttime Eagle” is one song that will get listeners dancing. It has a beat makes it impossible to remain still. It also has a guitar sound that has filled honky tonks forever and a vibe like a Waylon Jennings song.

“Doing My Best” is another song that will fill a dance floor. It’s also a great example of how he weaves rock and roll into  these songs. The guitar at the beginning of this one brings Chuck Berry to mind and the piano is as rock and roll as can be. 

Not every song is as uptempo. “Red Roses” is a ballad about the frustrations of a relationship. You can hear the regret when he croons, “The roses aren’t as red as they used to be, but they are in my memory.” “Never Thought of No One” is another song that brings the tempo down. This song features an organ and some spacey guitar reminiscent of some of the best Bakersfield songs. It’s an evocative song that can tug at your heartstrings, especially when he sings, “I’ve been in this place for way too long. Someday I’m gonna be free.”

The organ is a presence throughout the album, and is a big part of the soul aspect of the sound. “Rosalie” is a particularly soulful song that includes not only organ but also baritone saxophone. The steady guitar picking in this song actually leans more toward the blues. One thing is for sure. This is quite a bit different than a lot of the slick Nashville country.

Goodbye L.A. (Sofaburn Records) by Jeremy Pinnell is not so much a study in contrasts as it is a study in combinations. First and foremost, he is a country artist who has some rock and roll in his soul. He gives you songs to dance to, and he gives you songs that hit you in the heart. He sings about the happiness and frustration we experience as humans. And he does it all brilliantly, giving other songwriters something to aspire to both in creating melodies and telling stories.

Photo credit: Jeremy Kramer

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