Corey Smith, Colt Ford, Brantley Gilbert and Daniel Lee, what do the four of these artists have in common? The four of them were at one point in their careers all signed to the same record label. Maybe not at the same time, but they were all signed to Average Joe’s Entertainment. Not only that, but they all came from within an 18 mile radius of each other. Now sit and think about that for a second. Corey Smith, who has released seven independent records, Colt Ford, who has released five and is a prominent figure within Average Joe’s Entertainment, Brantley Gilbert who co-wrote the 4x certified platinum hit single, “Dirt Road Anthem”, with Ford, and has had three number one hit singles, and Daniel Lee, who just released his DEBUT CD, “Roots”, all came from the same area. Needless to say, there is something in the water down in the northern part of Georgia.
Now let me shed some light on the last person I mentioned, Daniel Lee. Lee, who is from a little town called Winder, a city within Barrow County, formed a band in 2008. His first gig? Inside of a church that had been rebuilt into a small venue that sat fifty or so people. Influences? Jamey Johnson, The Peach Pickers, and Randy Houser to name a few. This debut CD shows that and much more. Lee wrote or co-wrote 12 of the 13 tracks on the record, Neil Mason (The Cadillac 3), Dan Couch (Something Bout a Truck), and Brantley Gilbert (Dirt Road Anthem) are a few artists that Lee collaborated with among others when making this record. Now let’s dive right into this CD. If you’ve read my reviews in the past, I usually go track by track. I am going to do this same with this review.
Backwoods Tobacco – First song on this record, it’s also the first single by Daniel Lee. If any of you have followed Daniel Lee and The Daniel Lee Band, you would know that this is a re-release of a song that was originally released when Mud Digger 3 came out back in 2012. Still one of my favorite songs released by this band. They also just recently released the music video for this track here:
Georgia Asphalt Road – This is THE ONLY song that was Lee recorded on this record that was not a write or a co-write. It doesn’t take anything from this CD though. When I first listened to this song, I thought, “Wow, this song speaks volumes. Amazing”. Then I found out who wrote it. Chris Janson, the same guy that wrote, “Truck Yeah” with Tim McGraw. In my honest opinion, this is one of my favorite songs on the record.
For Sale Sign – A slower song, that touches the heart, “There’s a for sale sign, on this heart of mine. You don’t like the price, well that’s alright make an offer and place a bid. I got a for sale sign on this heart of mine I’ll take whatever I can get.” It’s slower, talks of a broken heart that needs healing. But it’s not your typical “heart-break” song. I like it.
Head Over Heels – This song is one that I think would have a lot of potential if it made it to the airwaves. A more up beat song, expressing his feelings towards his love. “I can’t breathe cause you take my breath away, look what I’ve fallen into, I’m head over heels over you”.
A third of the way through this record and I can say with complete honesty, I am not upset about this CD at all. The entire CD is exactly what I thought it was going to be. Lets continue.
Rebel – The fifth track on the CD, and it starts out with some southern guitar riffs that get you tapping your feet and bobbing your head. “Gotta mama’s good looks and her daddy’s bad habits, every little bit of that I gotta have it…”. What Lee describes as a “Rebel” in this song is every southern boy’s dream. She’s one of the boys, but she is a lady. Dig this song for sure.
Struggleville – Now we come to a song that is a personal favorite of mine. A song that’s about being stuck somewhere without knowing how you are going to get out. This is that song that reminds you that things won’t get better until you can get out of the place you are in. Or as the song says, “Things won’t get better atleast until, I can get out of Struggleville.” Co-written with Brantley Gilbert, this song was inspired by a road sign. Lee was actually living in a place called Struggleville, just outside of Statham, Georgia. He says he saw the sign one day and was like, “Oh there you go. There’s a song.”
Hell Yeah – A party anthem song. A song that pretty much describes a part of Lee’s life. I’ve actually been listening to this song for quite some time, so to hear it get put on Lee’s first record, a record titled, “Roots”. It seems fitting.
To Me – So, the album just took a complete turn in the opposite direction as far as the mood goes. You go from, “I never been the type to back down so you better think twice before you run that mouth.” to “You’re only everything that means anything to me.” But, the last time I heard a song like this, it was probably one of the most amazing ballads to NEVER hit mainstream radio. Yet everyone knows it, and everyone loves it. To Me is more than a ballad, it’s a feeling, “Freight train ready to go off at any minute, you’re the track that keeps me in line.” Absolutely LOVE this song.
Redneck Routine – Now, we go from, “You’re only everything that means anything to me.” to “Late nights, bar fights, running from the blue lights, ain’t not telling whats going down….” Redneck Routine has that feel about it. It’s a song that just makes you want to get in the truck, ride around town, and just raise as much hell as you can without getting caught.
No You In Us – I get that, “You don’t want to be here” vibe when I hear this song. It’s powerful to say the least. The lyrics to this song are fantastic. “There can’t be no you and me, when there aint no you in us.” Another song that just makes you wonder why this is Lee’s debut CD. Outstanding.
Complain – “I love to words to Amazing Grace, and I like the way whiskey and sweet tea taste.” One word describes this song. Southern. “I’ve found love, and I’ve found pain, and I’ve got no reason to complain.” And neither do I.
Slowdown Town – A song pinned with Dan Couch, who helped write “Something Bout A Truck”. A song that takes me back to my hometown, where nothing fast happens around there. Any song that takes me back to my hometown is a good song in my eyes.
Love It All – Another feel good song. When I hear this song, I can picture myself cruising down the road, heading to the beach. This is one of those songs that you can just cruise to. I found myself keeping this song on repeat.
As you can tell, I absolutely love this album. It has that perfect blend of ballads and upbeat songs. It’s not your typical “country” album either, but then again, like Lee says himself, “It’s not Country, It’s not Rock, It’s Southern.” And he is dead on about that. If you have a chance, go out, get the record. I promise you, you will not regret it.
Daniel Lee has teamed up with Adventure Bags Inc to help celebrate his CD release with a CD release party at Wild Bills in Duluth, Georgia on Aug, 2nd. Go to http://www.AdventureBags.org, see what they need, and just simply bring it. There will be a bin at the door for you to drop off your item, it’s as simple as that. There’s nothing more heartwarming than knowing that you just made a child smile that you have never seen before.
Rating: It’s rare that I give a CD a perfect rating. For the simple reason that something can ALWAYS be better, but this album, it’s perfect. I rate this a 10/10. This is a must have record.
Purchase “Roots” on iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/roots/id892517868
Facebook: The Daniel Lee Band