I’ve been following the career of Jimmie Allen for many years and his debut album ‘Mercury Lane’ is ever-present in my car. It’s quite simply the perfect soundtrack to any drive and was so good it led to the New York Times describing it as one of 2018’s strongest albums. It also launched this incredible artist with two consecutive number 1 hits; his double platinum debut ‘Best Shot’ and the platinum certified ‘Make Me Want To’.
For many artists this might be the go to moment in a career for a writer to realise this singer had something special, but for me that moment came two years later in November 2020 when he stepped on stage to duet with the legendary Charley Pride to sing ‘Kiss an Angel Good Morning’ as the artist was awarded a lifetime achievement award from the CMA.
None of us could have known that the ground breaking force that was Charley Pride would pass just a few weeks later but there was a feeling for me that it was almost a passing of the baton moment for Jimmie Allen, a Country artist who is keen to explore new ways of making his music accessible and relevant, something he began to explore in his second collaborative project, ‘Bettie James’ which illustrated his expansive love for music across genres and was hailed as “a powerful statement from a developing voice” by Billboard. Charley Pride knew what it was to bring Country music to a new audience as in the mid 1970’s he was RCA’s second biggest artist behind none other than the King himself, Elvis Presley.
Now, Jimmie Allen has released his 17 song strong tour de force that is ‘Tulip Drive’, another album that has a deeply personal title. Debut album ‘Mercury Lane’ was the name of the street he grew up on. The sophomore album ‘Bettie James’ was named after his late Grandmother, Bettie Snead, and his late father James ‘Big Jim’ Allen. Now 2022’s release ‘Tulip Drive’ is named after the street that his Grandmother grew up on. The personal titles of his records is almost proof of how important and personal his music has always been to him but this record really feels like that personal element has spilled into the song writing. Jimmie says:
“This is the first (album) where I chose to write songs about my personal experience thoughts and hopes”
The resultant music is a reflection of his signature approach to music and solidifies his accent towards music superstardom. Country music has always been about the truth but this record gets deeply into some very personal places, maybe best illustrated by the hugely moving letter to his father Down Home’ and the motivational anthem ‘Be Alright’.
Lyrics like “If haters gonna hate, let ‘em hate me, it ain’t easy to build your own fire when it’s freezin’, but the grind’s worth the time, believe me” give us an insight to how difficult it might feel to be an artist of colour in the Country genre but the huge support and acclaim he has garnered to date are some proof that things are changing and it will be singers like Jimmie that continue to make that happen. It’s something the legend Charley Pride stood for which is maybe why we often see Jimmie Allen wearing a ‘Pride’ belt buckle, the duality of that word as an homage to one of his main inspirations and to his pride in being the artist and man he is.
The brilliant and hugely moving ‘Down Home’, an open letter to his late Father includes the lyric progression “I promise I’m working with this guitar ‘bout as hard as I can, I hope I’m making you proud” and on the back of this latest album ‘Tulip Drive’, I’m sure he can be sure that he has achieved just that; still pushing boundaries but still making great Country music. Jimmie Allen has managed to create an album that achieves the holy grail of music in that it is still a great listen but also sends a really important message. ‘Big Jim’ and Charley Pride would both be proud.
Jimmie Allen embarked on his ‘Down Home Tour 2022’ in February, his first headline tour, and in Autumn to Spring 2023 he will join Carrie Underwood’s ‘Denim & Rhinestone Tour’ as a Special Guest on all 43 US Arena dates. In the UK we can only keep our fingers crossed that he shows up at Country2Country or The Long Road 2023 and brings his special brand of Country music to his UK fan base. The videos to new single ‘Down Home’ and to ‘Be Alright’ are both really worth a watch and maybe hint at another string to this talented artist’s bow as he was co-director on the former.
He already has a debut picture book ‘My Voice is a Trumpet’, a powerful story about speaking up for what you believe in at any age, which was published a year ago and he has been executive producer for a Netflix series ‘Titletown High’ which premiered last year as well as singing the theme song. There really is no end to the talents of this man and I strongly urge you to get the new record and search out the previous two if you haven’t already. This is a Country artist who I’m sure will be around for some time, after all Charley Pride has passed the baton.
‘Tulip Drive’ Tracklist:
- by Ash be alright (Jimmie Allen, Jason Evigan, Gian Stone, Castle) *
- what i’m talkin bout (Zach Abend, Michael Hardy, Seth Ennis) ^
- kissin you (Jimmie Allen, Ashley Gorley, Zach Crowell) ^
- down home (Jimmie Allen, Rian Ball, Cameron Bedell, Tate Howell) ^
- settle on back (Jimmie Allen, Tate Howell, Trip Howell, David Pramik) ^
- pesos (feat. CeeLo Green & T-Pain) (Jimmie Allen, Edward Martin, Vincent Venditto, T-Pain, Thomas Callaway, Yannique DeLisle Barker, Chris Doyle, J. ”Lonny” Bereal) +
- love in the living room (Jimmie Allen, Jesse Frasure, Brandon Day, Alysa Vanderheym, Cary Barlowe) **
- on my way (Jimmie Allen & Jennifer Lopez) (Ivy Adara, Leroy Clampitt, Michael Pollack) ^^
- broken hearted (feat. Katie Ohh) (Jimmie Allen, Ashley Gorley, Will Weatherly) ^
- habits & hearts (Steven McMorran, Derrick Southerland, Jess Cates) ^
- right now (Jimmie Allen, Matt Rogers, Jordan Schmidt) ^
- wouldn’t feel like summer (Alysa Vandereheym, Matthew McGinn, Jimmie Deeghan) ^
- undo (Matt Rogers, Matt McVaney, Daniel Breland) ^
- get you a girl (Jimmie Allen, Justin Ebach, Matt Jenkins) ++
- keep em coming (Jimmie Allen, Brad Tursi, Will Weatherly) ^
- every time i say amen (Travis Hill, Jon Nite, Ross Copperman) ^
- you won’t be alone (feat. Aadyn) (Jimmie Allen, Justin Ebach) ***
* Produced by Jason Evigan and Gian Stone
^ Produced by Ash Bowers and Jimmie Allen
+ Produced by Vinny Venditto and Vic “BillboardKiller” Martin
** Produced by Jesse Frasure and Jimmie Allen
^^ Produced by Keith Hetrick
++ Produced by Ilya Toshinskiy and Jimmie Allen
*** Produced Bowers and Eric Torres