HomeEntertainmentReview: Jenny Tolman Makes Traditional Country for the Modern Age with ‘Married in a Honky Tonk’

Review: Jenny Tolman Makes Traditional Country for the Modern Age with ‘Married in a Honky Tonk’

by Clayton Edwards
(Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

Jenny Tolman dropped her new record Married in a Honky Tonk and it is something that every country fan needs to check out. You can hear Tolman’s traditional country influences as clear as day. However, she never tries to pretend to be anyone but herself. The result is a collection of songs that feels modern and traditional at the same time. More importantly, Tolman’s authenticity shines through every note.

Married in a Honky Tonk has a little something for everyone. The title track reminds me of Alan Jackson’s “I Don’t Even Know Your Name” in its drunken wedding silliness. On the other hand, “Afraid” is the kind of deep love song that you don’t hear every day. Between those two extremes, Jenny Tolman serves plenty of fiery attitude.

Married in a Honky Tonk contains 13 songs and Jenny Tolman wrote or co-wrote every one of them. Most of the co-writes on the record feature Tolman and her husband/producer Dave Brainard. As a result, the record’s more serious moments feel a little heavier. At the same time, the couple’s happiness shines through on the more humorous tunes.

Standout Tracks from Married in a Honky Tonk

Jenny Tolman put together one hell of a collection of songs here. I’ve listened to it a few times now and haven’t skipped a single track. However, there are a few songs that have already made their way onto my playlist for the weekend.

“Working Woman’s Blues”

I love a good toe-tapping working-class anthem. Songs like “Quittin’ Time” by Jason Scott & The High Heat and “Paycheck to Paycheck” by Mike and the Moonpies are great examples of songs like that from recent releases. However, it is rare to hear one of these from a woman’s perspective. Jenny Tolman gave us that with “Working Woman’s Blues.”

This song is all working hard and still going into debt to keep up with the Joneses. Lines like “We spend our lives workin’ long hard hours / to buy the things to impress the people that we don’t like,” made this one an instant favorite.

“Borrowing Sugar”: Jenny Tolman Channels Loretta Lynn

This song reminds me of Loretta Lynn’s classic “Fist City.” It’s about a neighbor who is interested in “borrowing sugar” from Jenny Tolman’s man. The whole song is her telling that neighbor to hit the bricks in no uncertain terms. The attitude in the lyrics combined with the soaring steel guitar in this one had me hooked immediately.

“World’s a Small Town”

In this song, Jenny Tolman takes the classic concept of a cheating song and updates it for the modern age. It’s about a guy who gets caught sleeping around through social media.

Jenny Tolman lays lyrics about social media, the cloud, and the worldwide web over a slow waltz with a ton of crying steel guitar. This is, without a doubt, my favorite track on the album.

Final Verdict on the New Jenny Tolman Album

I won’t say that Jenny Tolman put together the perfect country album with Married in a Honky Tonk. However, I will say that it’s one of the best I’ve heard in quite a while. Sonically, it ranges from classic to 90s country and honky tonk with dashes of rock and gospel to keep things interesting. Lyrically, it is funny, feisty, and, at times, vulnerable but always authentic. If you long for the good old days of country music, you need to hear this record.