Cody Johnson’s music bridges the gap between Texas and Nashville country.
Cody Johnson never set out to bridge the gap between Texas country and Nashville country, but that certainly seems like what he is doing. He’s winning fans across the nation with his give-it-his-all live shows and blend of authentic Texas country and Nashville polish.
Johnson’s single “Cowboy Like Me” off his album of the same name recently hit No. 1 on the Texas Music Chart and the Texas Regional Radio Report. America won’t be far behind. Following on the heels of other Texas musicians like Eli Young Band, Aaron Watson and the Randy Rogers Band, Johnson is poised for breakout success on the US Country charts.
But unlike the other artists who left Texas’s borders for Nashville, Johnson doesn’t have any plans on changing his music or who he is. He doesn’t need to. His music already sits in a groove that fans of both commercial country and Texas country can appreciate.
Cowboy Like Me
From the very first time you listen to Cowboy Like Me, you feel as though you could sing along. The songs sound familiar and comfortable, like a favorite sweater gone through the wash. He channels Charlie Daniels on “Hurtin'” and Pat Green on “Lucky.” The title track is reminiscent of Jamey Johnson while “(I Wouldn’t Go There) If I Were You” sounds like pure Clay Walker. Johnson even dips into children’s literature, recalling the popular series If You Give a Mouse a Cookie for his track “If You Give a Cowboy a Kiss.”
There’s no doubt that Johnson will bring his A-game every time, no matter if the crowd is 20 or 20,000.
Meanwhile, the musical arrangements are a mix of polished Nashville guitar and Texas fiddle, with a healthy wallop of steel guitar in the mix. This is where Cody Johnson shines: bridging the gap between the mainstream sounds of Music City and the traditional tones of the Lone Star State. That combination makes his music pleasurable to any country music fan, regardless of whether they’re listening in Dallas, Nashville, Portland or New York. And, his lyrics are undeniably country, cultivating his image with lines about buckles, spurs and pearl snaps. And yes, even trucks.
Johnson was raised in Sebastopol, Texas, a small speck of a town in the woods outside of Huntsville, Texas. He grew up hunting and fishing. He even rode bulls for three years. So, yeah, Cody Johnson knows what country is.
Part Garth Brooks, part Jim Morrison
All along the way, Johnson has played country music. He has become well-known for his high-energy shows. There’s no doubt that Johnson will bring his A-game every time, no matter if the crowd is 20 or 20,000. Johnson has cited Garth Brooks, Chris Ledoux and even the Doors’ legendary frontman Jim Morrison as inspiration for his live acts. Equally as comfortable in an arena as in an acoustic cafe, Johnson has had the crowds singing along, yelling, and doing whatever it takes to get them to feel like they are part of the show.
And it’s paid off. Other country musicians and industry bigwigs have taken note. Johnson won the Texas regional New Male Vocalist of the Year award in 2011.
That’s when he decided to shift his focus to music (a bunch of bulls and a job as prison inmate supervisor later) and took off for Nashville to record his album A Different Day. He worked with Trent Willmon, a country music veteran who knows what he’s doing when it comes to producing music. Johnson and Willmon together crafted the unique sound to Johnson’s music — the mix of Texas and Nashville.
A few albums and a few Number One hits later, Cody Johnson is now taking his sound to a wider audience. He’s firing up concert halls from Texas to South Dakota with his leave-it-all-on-the-stage performances. Most of all, he’s 100% Cody Johnson: “Texas, outlaw, cowboy, country and a God fearing man using the gift He gave me.”
America, take note. Cody Johnson is coming for you.