Deana Carter - 'Southern Way Of Life'

American singer-songwriter Deana Carter's seventh studio album Southern Way Of Life has recently been released in the UK and US on all formats. Available digitally since 2nd December in the US, this is Deana's first album in six years and her first original material in almost ten years. I have been aware of Deana for a few years but have never listened to much of her music so was pleasantly surprised to hear such a strong release.

Her first release on her own record label Little Nugget, this CD has a definite cohesiveness that shows Deana certainly knows 'her sound'. Lead single Do Or Die appears as the penultimate track on the album and is lyrically probably one of the most sombre songs on the album with lyrics such as "I'm sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor, wondering how I'm gonna make it to the store". Instrumentally this song is very strong with the production fading and growing where needed.

I'm a big fan of the blues infused title track Southern Way Of Life. With a driving bass line and drum accompaniment the instrumentalisation fits well with the message behind the track. Including lyrics such as "you still get service with a smile" and "back when the black eyed peas were something you put in your mouth" the song travels well through various 'southern ways of life' and I keep finding myself drawn back to it.

That's Just Me is also another strong track. At around a minute in, a synthesised beat starts which oddly works well with the track. With a soft opening drum accompaniment and then the aforementioned synthesised beat giving most of the base accompaniment to the track, the acoustic guitar then builds upon that and frequently returns to a short hook, rounding out another strongly produced track.

Interestingly album opener You Can't Stay features backing vocals from Kimberly Perry (of The Band Perry). Her voice merges well with Deana and it will certainly be interesting to see if they do anything more together in the future. Kacey Musgraves also joins Deana on tracks I Don't Want To and That's Just Me and collaborations with Tyler Hilton and Damon Elliot are also included.

I tried to find a song I didn't like whilst listening to this album and can honestly say I struggled. I did however find myself wanting to push more of a pace into Waiting For You To Come Home. Whilst overall still a good track, other numbers on the album suit Deana better in my opinion.

From the songwriter of such hits as Strawberry Wine and You And Tequila an album full of great storytelling was always to be expected and in my opinion Deana certainly delivers. With Do Or Die coming "when I was at my bottom" (shortly after the moment that gave birth to this track, Kenny Chesney cut You And Tequila) and I'll Save My Love For You being about saving oneself for marriage.

Track listing....
1) You Can't Stay
2) Before You Left
3) I Know Better
4) I'll Save My Love For You
5) I Don't Want To 
6) That's Just Me
7) Waiting For You To Come Home
8) I Barely Knew
9) Do Or Die
10) Southern Way Of Life

The album as a whole reminds me of Sheryl Crow and strongly of Grace Potter at points and is overall very impressive. This is however not the album for fans of the rockier side of country music due to it's lighter production and overall styling but I would recommend fans of artists such as Sheryl Crow listen to this. The album as a whole feels very personal to Deana and I know I will continue to be playing it for a while yet!