The Good Life

Andy Griggs

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The Good Life Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Even if 2004's This I Gotta See charted higher on the Billboard pop charts than his previous two albums, Andy Griggs suffered from diminishing returns over the course of his three major-label albums, with each record spinning off fewer hits than the last. Given this, it's not entirely surprising that he parted ways with RCA after 2004, resurfacing on the Nashville-based independent label Montage four years later with The Good Life. Affiliations may have changed for Griggs, but his sound hasn't, as The Good Life sounds as big and polished as any major-label mainstream country record yet this decade. It might sound professional, but it's not quite contemporary, as it ignores all the major and minor trends of the past half-decade or so since Griggs' last record, serving up a bright, streamlined version of turn-of-the-millennium poppy country, filled with snappy riffs meant to fill arenas, and ballads meant to crossover to the charts. While it's a bit odd that Griggs still seems somewhat straitjacketed by commercial expectations now that he's under the radar and on an indie, he does sound comfortable in this setting, and when he has the right song -- the nice bluesy shuffle of "You Can't Drive My Cadillac" or the Southern rock swagger of "Long Way Down," the mellow "New Orleans Lady," or the well-meaning Waylon rewrite "Long Stretch of Lonesome" -- this is summery fun. When he has the wrong song -- the anonymous "Burning a Hole in My Head" or, worst of all, the first single "Tattoo Rose," crammed tight with uncomfortable smutty puns Griggs can't quite wrap his head around -- this is worse than any of his three albums, but fortunately for him, the good outweighs the bad on The Good Life. But next time around, he really should loosen up and record a record without the charts in mind.

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