Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Liner Notes: Down-home country fun highlights Riley Green’s ‘Ain’t My Last Rodeo’

Country+artist+Riley+Green+shines+best+when+he+has+fun+with+his+down-home+swagger+on+his+new+album%2C+%E2%80%9CAin%E2%80%99t+My+Last+Rodeo%2C%E2%80%9D+released+Oct.+15.
Shveta Shah/Daily Northwestern
Country artist Riley Green shines best when he has fun with his down-home swagger on his new album, “Ain’t My Last Rodeo,” released Oct. 15.

Riley Green takes his swagger living like a down-home country boy seriously, so much so that he seldom enjoys it. But when he does, you’re in for a darned good time.

The country artist’s second full length album, “Ain’t My Last Rodeo,” was released Friday and packs a plethora of slow burning songs nodding to well worn boots, old Chevrolets and Hank Williams. The real magic, though, happens when Green picks up the pace and brings some “uptown stuff” to the record.

Take “Copenhagen In A Cadillac,” a self-written honky-tonk tune reminiscent of George Jones. Green joins country and hip-hop artist Jelly Roll, the genre-bending performer who has recently collaborated with several country artists, on this refreshingly traditional track with a twist.

In the song, Jelly Roll recalls listening to both Lynyrd Skynyrd and rapper The Notorious B.I.G.: “I’m a little hillbilly and a little O.G.” Green chimes in with more ironic rejoinders, and before you know it, you’re bouncing to a honky-tonk piano and steel guitars that sound so classic you can only laugh at the ridiculous lyrics.

His duet with Luke Combs, “Different ’Round Here,” served as the album’s primary single. It’s a rehash of the same song from Green’s debut, also titled “Different ’Round Here,” released in 2019. Combs adds some star power to his ode to hard work and small-town life, but it doesn’t compare to standards like “A Country Boy Can Survive” by Hank Williams Jr.

But maybe that’s what draws fans to Green in the first place. Much of his small discography celebrates quaint but powerful themes like small-town patriotism and a well-mannered upbringing. Early hits like Green’s breakout single “I Wish Grandpas Never Died” attest to that appeal.

Green still lives in his hometown of Jacksonville, Alabama — a small town with a population of 14,385 in 2020 — a far cry from the commercial pressures of Nashville’s Music Row. Even so, he seems to struggle with some of those big city, big money pressures.

He opens “Ain’t My Last Rodeo” with “Damn Country Music,” a poignant slow-burner about the never-ending pull of making music: “It’s a neon fever for a small-town dreamer / Tells you everything you have is worth losin’.” Here, Green appears at his most relatable and honest.

Further into the album, Green repeats these themes — plus the obligatory nods to grandpas and dirt roads — to varying success. Sometimes, despite traditional instruments, the production can sound commercial. Other times, Green will make you nostalgic for the beat-up trucks and childhood guitars you never had.

Green remains a relatively new artist. A few EPs preceded his debut album, which helped win him New Male Artist of the Year from the Academy of Country Music Awards in 2020. But since “Different ’Round Here,” he has only released an occasional single or EP.

Compared to bigger artists like Combs and Morgan Wallen who have released multiple albums during that span, Green has released music at a slower pace. But for someone who appreciates the smaller things in life, a sparse release schedule might suit a down-home country boy just right.

Email: [email protected]
X: @realShunGraves

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