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Thompson Square Defy the Odds with “Just Feels Good”

Stoney Creek Records (2013)

There’s this unwritten but oft-spoken rule about art, that says the best art emanates from pain, and the most “real” expressions come from angst. Something like that. But with their sophomore release Just Feels Good, married couple/duo Thompson Square demonstrate that this rule (like so many others) is meant to be broken—that you can create great music from a place of joy and positivity, as well.

Kiefer and Shawna Thompson first put this to the test with their feel-good breakout single “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not” (off their debut self-titled album), which went Platinum and garnered the duo their first Grammy nomination. That kind of success puts a level of expectation on an up-and-coming act, and the sophomore record can either rise to the challenge or cave to the pressure. Thankfully, Just Feels Good has landed on the former.

The Thompsons could easily have reverted to formula in the crafting of this set of songs, writing songs about heartache, heartbreak, or even beer. But there is another “rule” of sorts when it comes to creating art, and that is that good art must be authentic, coming from a real place. As it is, Thompson Square have chosen to sing songs about what they know. They aren’t outlaw country renegades drowning their sorrows at the bar between one dysfunctional relationship and the next. They are a happily married couple, and were thus long before they became a country duo. So the songs on Just Feels Good, which the couple describe as autobiographical, focus on the ups, downs, struggles and joys of married love. And believe it or not—it works. Granted, these songs would probably not play as well in a goth or punk styling, but the real-life vibe of country is a perfect fit.

And so, at least in this case, authenticity trumps angst when it comes to creating art. Thompson Square have created a solid second album built on positive, upbeat messages, reflecting the joy they feel with each other, proving that not every great song (country or otherwise) has to teem with anger or pain—and that sometimes, love is actually a happy thing.

 

3.5 / 5 stars     

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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Music blogger Rob Burkhardt has been a fan of country music since he was a child, cutting his teeth on the sounds of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Reba McIntyre and George Jones. In the words of the now-legendary Barbara Mandrell song, he was "country when country wasn't cool." Nowadays, Rob is both intrigued and excited about the mainstream crossover appeal of modern country, as seen in the success of artists like Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts and Lady Antebellum. Even so, Rob's personal tastes in country music remain "old school," tied to the great legends of country. When he's not blogging about country music, Rob Burkhardt holds a day job as a middle school teacher, and is an avid sports fan. He lives with his wife and two teenage girls in southern Ohio.

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Posted in: Album Reviews, Country Music, Featured


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