Review: ‘Something Borrowed, Something New’ Is a Fitting Tribute to a Living Legend

by Clayton Edwards
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John Anderson released his self-titled debut album in 1980. Since then, he has consistently released top-notch country music. Songs like “Seminole Wind” “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal” and “Straight Tequila Night” made him a mainstay on country radio in the 90s. More importantly, Anderson’s music influenced an entire generation of artists of all stripes. Something Borrowed, Something New: A Tribute to John Anderson is a testament to the width and breadth of his influence.

The artists on Something Borrowed, Something New are all across the country and roots music spectrum. Radio hitmakers like Eric Church and Luke Combs are right alongside folks like Tyler Childers and Sierra Ferrell. Legends like John Prine and Del McCoury also make appearances here. You’re simply not going to find this kind of lineup anywhere else.

John Anderson spoke about the artists who turned up for Something Borrowed, Something New. “Listening to everybody do their own take on the songs shows how the songs really come through,” he said. “Any one person on the record would be a real tribute, but all of them together? It’s a pretty big deal for me personally.”

I couldn’t agree more. This record is, indeed, a pretty big deal.

Something Borrowed, Something New Sounds Like the Perfect Playlist

The one thing that ties the songs on Something Borrowed, Something New together is quality. As Anderson said, everyone put their own spin on his songs. As a result, the interpretations are as different as the musicians behind them. However, they all fit together like a well-crafted musical puzzle. At the same time, if I had to describe the song selection on this one in a word, it would be “timeless.”  Nineties bangers like “Seminole Wind” and “Straight Tequila Night” sit perfectly beside early cuts like “1959” and more recent songs like “Years”.

Anderson also spoke about the songs contained on the tribute album. “I thought to myself, ‘You might have been young and foolish back then, but you sure did pick some good songs.’ It’s gratifying to know that some things really do not change, and a great country song remains a great country song.”

Standout Tracks from the Something Borrowed, Something New

This is harder than usual. First, Something Borrowed, Something New is packed with killer songs. So, it was already tough to pick favorites. Add to that the fact that we’ve already written standalone pieces for some of the best cuts on the record. So that took John Prine’s cover of “1959”, Sierra Ferrell’s cover of “Years”, and Luke Combs’ cover of “Seminole Wind” off the table.

Luckily, I’ve listened to this album eight or nine times today and have grown pretty fond of some other tracks.

“I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Someday)”

This is my favorite song on Something Borrowed, Something New. Written by the outlaw country legend Billy Joe Shaver, John Anderson took this one to number four in 1981. This simple song about self-improvement is about as timeless as it gets. To hear Jamey Johnson lend his voice to it here was a real treat.

Where John Anderson opted for a Western Swing feel in his version, Johnson went for a more low-key approach. This cover features some great piano work that combines blues and gospel and it fits the song like a glove. Really, I couldn’t imagine a better way to close this album.

 “Shoot Low Sheriff”

Tyler Childers really made this cut from John Anderson’s self-titled debut record his own. Where Anderson’s cut leans into honky tonk, this cover is 100% Appalachian. Childers’ string band arrangement conjures images of moonshiners running their product through the hills in the old days.

His arrangement fits the song so well that you’d almost think it was a Childers original if it wasn’t on this album.

Straight Tequila Night

This one is a classic. When this song came on the radio in the 90s, it was time to crank up the volume and sing along. However, you couldn’t really say that Anderson’s version of this tune is upbeat. Ashley McBryde’s cover is even less so.

McBryde’s delivery over the slower tempo and more stripped-down arrangement makes this cover feel more like a sad song. Maybe there’s a level of empathy for the woman in question that Anderson lacked.  Either way, this is a great cover.

Final Verdict on the John Anderson Tribute Album

Honestly, if you’re a country music fan, you need to hear Something Borrowed, Something New. If nothing else, it will introduce you to a laundry list of great artists. However, if you grew up on John Anderson’s music, listening to this record is like taking a trip down memory lane with some of the hottest and most talented artists the genre has to offer.

I would be shocked if Something Borrowed, Something New didn’t end up in several year-end lists.

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