It’s been 10 years (yes really) since Charlie Worsham released his debut album ‘Rubberband’. In the time since, as well as recording a second LP – 2017’s ‘Beginning Of Things’ – he’s also become one of the most well-regarded guitar players in Nashville, working with the likes of Ashley McBryde and Eric Church, as well as winning a lot of love from fans on this side of the pond. Now he’s back with his latest project ‘Compadres’, the follow-up to 2021 EP ‘Sugarcane’, produced by the Cadillac Three’s Jaren Johnston and featuring a stellar supporting cast.
The five-track EP kicks off with ‘Handful Of Dust’, Worsham’s take on the Patty Loveless classic featuring Lainey Wilson. It opens with a stomping rhythm and fuzzy guitars before Worsham bursts into an opening yell. He and Wilson have great harmonies together and there’s a lovely smooth quality about their vocals, especially on the driving rocky chorus and the big notes they hit on the bridge before the song drops away into a Fleetwood Mac-esque guitar solo. It’s a fun, joyful song that makes you want to dance along and I think it’s going to sound great live too.
One thing which really stood out to me about the project is the sheer variety of songs and sounds on there. ‘Kiss Like You Dance’, with Kip Moore, sees Worsham showing off his cheeky, playful side, with its punchy drums and references to ‘Fast As You’ and ‘Workin’ Man Blues’ as well as a big anthemic chorus and a bluesy guitar solo. Elsewhere, the bright, twangy ‘Creekwater Clear’ rattles along with its lyrical references to ‘old tyres and rusted out refrigerators’ painting a nostalgic picture as Worsham and Elle King pack the rapid-fire chorus full of details. It’s a real testament to his talents as a vocalist that he’s able to blend seamlessly with so many other artists, all of whom have their own distinctive sounds, and still hold his own throughout.
For me the standout track on the project is ‘How I Learned To Pray’, which Worsham originally recorded for ‘Rubberband’. Here he teams up with Luke Combs, giving the song a more layered feel than the original with a delicate, shimmering intro and gentle acoustic guitar melody. I loved the storytelling in the lyrics, particularly Combs’ opening version with its tale of a teenage boy wrecking his car, as well as the richness and depth of their vocal blend in the soaring chorus. It’s one of the softer moments on the project and provides a really moving, introspective look back for longtime fans in particular to see how far Worsham has come since the original (particularly keeping in mind his solo verse).
The EP closes with ‘Things I Can’t Control’, a duet between Worsham and Dierks Bentley, whose band he’s been playing in for the past two summers. It’s got bags of opening swagger and chiming guitar chords as well as a sunny, optimistic vibe, with Worsham and Bentley singing about how ‘I’ll have a good time til it’s my time to go’ and ‘what I don’t stress about can’t hurt me’. The rollicking chorus is easy to sing along to and feels like a real hands-in-the-air live moment, and I was also very impressed by Worsham’s vocal runs as well as the final guitar riff, which starts off shuffling and Eagles-esque before bursting into a wailing, fiery finale.
Overall ‘Compadres’ feels like the project where Worsham has truly arrived, highlighting the different influences on his style as well as his vocal range and incredible skills as a musician. It’s sure to appeal to fans of his previous work and win him over some new audiences too, and shows just why he’s become so respected in the country music industry. When we spoke recently he mentioned he’s already working on idea for ‘Compadres Part 2′ as well as his third solo album, and personally I can’t wait to see where he goes from here. In the meantime, here’s hoping we get to hear some of these songs live in the UK soon (special guest appearance on Luke Combs’ tour perhaps?).
Track listing: 1. Handful Of Dust (featuring Lainey Wilson) 2. Kiss Like You Dance (featuring Kip Moore) 3. How I Learned To Pray (featuring Luke Combs) 4. Creekwater Clear (featuring Elle King) 5. Things I Can’t Control (featuring Dierks Bentley) Record label: Warner Music Nashville LLC Release date: 13th October 2023