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Geoff Buell’s “Ain’t the Beer”

Geoff Buell’s “Ain’t the Beer” is the sort of dyed in the wool instant country classic we rarely hear these days. The Wyoming born vocalist, pedal steel player, and multi-instrumentalist has offered us a song that harkens back to an earlier time far before pop country ever took hold. It’s little wonder. Buell has this music running through his bloodstream, hailing from a musical family and familiar with the music’s past. His mother Linda first moved Buell to Nashville at the age of 2 to chase her songwriting dreams and experienced success penning tunes for a variety of legendary performers.

His mastery of the pedal steel is impressive and growing. Buell understands how to get that high lonesome sound out of the instrument. It punctuates an already outstanding track with an audible forlorn spirit that Buell underlines with his singing. It rocks out as well. There’s nothing especially outstanding about the song’s subject, it’s as familiar to fans of the genre as songs about growing up or other topics. However, Buell has a song with “Ain’t the Beer” full of perfectly chosen words. There’s not an ounce of fat on this piece.

The construction is superb. Every twist and turn of the single pays listeners off with its pacing, the twang of guitars, and the crisp snap of its drumming. He does an excellent job conveying the scenario with conversational lyrics that everyone can relate to, but there’s also a personal edge. It comes from his singing. Buell conveys to listeners that he’s experienced situations exactly like this in convincing fashion.

He’s working with producer Jody Stevens, famed for his work with Luke Bryan among others. It’s an excellent match. It isn’t necessarily a sad song, the mid-tempo pace and raw boned guitars keep it from being some depressing ride. Juxtaposing it with the song’s sentiments, however, is a brilliant move. It keeps it entertaining without ever dragging listeners down. Stevens and Buell are an excellent pairing.

Buell first moved back to Nashville in 2006 and began perfecting his burgeoning craft. He has succeeded a great deal since then, building more and more towards where he’s arrived today. “Ain’t the Beer” is the latest step and certain to garner remarkable success. He plays well on the radio, he’s remained humble, and when you hear the song, you’ll understand that even greater successes are on his horizon.

It’s a fantastic track that will grab you from the first. The sound Jody Stevens achieves with the song is an ideal sonic vehicle for Buell to achieve the success he deserves. In the end, however, it’s the song that matters the most. There’s a naturalness to it, how it flows from one passage to the next, one line to the next, and it never strikes a false note along the way. Perhaps the most impressive part of the song, however, is how Geoff Buell performs as effortlessly as he’s breathing. He is born to do this, and we can be sure that every song will hit the same mark.

Mindy McCall



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