REVIEW: JONNY CORNDAWG – I’M NOT READY TO BE A DADDY (2010)
There are a few indicators that something awesome is in store for you when you discover Nashville-by-way-of-Brooklyn country musician Jonny Corndawg. First off, there’s his name. With a moniker like Jonny Corndawg, you’ve got to be a pretty awesome fella. Second off, were you to read Corndawg’s business card, you would see that underneath his name is listed his specialties: “Leather work, country music, pet portraits.” If that’s not a clue at the sheer coolness of Jonny Corndawg (né Fritz), I’m not sure what is. After such a build up, once you actually hear Corndawg’s music, it would be an incredible let down were he to be anything less than amazing. Luckily, the man does not disappoint. In fact, when you hear Corndawg’s twangy vocals, honest and hilarious lyrics, and skilled guitar playing, a whole new layer of greatness is uncovered: Not only is Corndawg seemingly too cool for school, but also, he’s a damn good musician.
From it’s opening notes, Corndawg’s latest full length, I’m Not Ready To Be A Daddy, wears it’s southern fried pride on it’s sleeve. Corndawg is a dyed-in-the-wool country musician and for that, he makes no apologies. Corndawg is not about to pretend he’s something he’s not to appeal to the masses. Sure, you won’t find anything trendy around these parts but one of the biggest draws here is the fact that Corndawg does what he does in the most sincerest of ways. I’m Not Ready To Be A Daddy is not a send up of old country songs in any way, nor is it a tribute to the albums of an era gone past. Instead, I’m Not Ready To Be A Daddy is an authentic old time country album through and through, only it’s a few generations removed from it’s ilk. The album completely lacks pretentiousness, instead choosing earnesty and clarity, in it’s own, twangy way.
Jonny Corndawg, as an artist, is often a juxtaposition of two opposites. Often times, his candor comes across as funny, as in I’m Not Ready To Be A Daddy’s opening track, the foot stompin’ “Family Tree”, a song that features lyrics like “Mmm, I got a crush on you and my balls are turnin’ blue”. Hilarious? Sure! The way it’s stated produces a chuckle but the fact of the matter is that it’s totally true. Currently, I’m rapt with a crush and I know I can’t count the times a day that my mind wanders towards the potential of more amorous times in my future and I think Corndawg and I aren’t the only ones who experience this. But underneath the humor of his honesty, Corndaw is an extreme talent, a masterful country musician the likes of which you don’t encounter much these days.
Musically, I’m Not Ready To Be A Daddy is an album filled with melodies both dark (“Shut Up”) and unabashedly catchy (“Sherry”) that all seem to be the very definition of the term “boot scootin’”. I know I for one am currently wearing some pretty sweet boots and whenever one of Corndawg’s tunes comes up on my ipod, those very boots cannot help but be scooted across the pavement. Lyrically, the album is brimming with the kind of heartfelt confessions that are only found in country music. “Fellas”, a dark, cautionary tale, finds Corndawg telling men everywhere not to let their girls go runnin’ around, lest they end up as miserable as our narrator. “Trash Day”, one of the album’s most beautifully crafted moments, spins the story of a man who can’t keep trouble at bay (even if that trouble is just forgetting to take the trash out to the curb) with the backing of a percussion stomp that sticks in your head with the accessibility of a top 40 pop tune. Later on, “Oversteppin’” plays out like Corndawg’s own version of Simon & Garfunkle’s “Mrs. Robinson”, finding the troubadour chasing after a married woman. “If you’d only overstep your bounds…. we’d be out of town, smokin’ marijuana. So laugh out loud and send a text message if you wanna.” Corndawg sings, his modern lyrics perfectly backed by a gentle, finger picked country melody.
Throughout the entirety of I’m Not Ready To Be A Daddy, Cordawg dispels pearls of wisdom (“Drink water and juice with a little slice of lemon, eat a raw clove of garlic every once in a while, meditate, appreciate, learn a foreign language.”) that, by the end of the album, end up being the LP’s most memorable moment, if only for the fact that what Corndawg is doing is not something that’s done often, at least not the way that Corndawg’s approaching it. You’ll find nothing here but Corndawg, through and through, showing his Nashville roots with pride and producing more than a few genuine laughs in the process. I don’t think it’s out of line to say that Corndawg is well on his way to becoming a national treasure and I personally cannot wait to see where his career of leather work, country music, and pet portraits take him.
Note: For a thoroughly enjoyable Corndawg track that isn’t on I’m Not Ready To Be A Daddy, please check out Jonny’s Daytrotter session for a superb version of his cautionary ode to premature oral sex, “Silver Panty Liners”.