TORONTO, Ont. — I have to admit it: I’ve got the fever. Though not typically a follower of country music, I found the latest effort from Kentucky-born musician Terry Wooley, Highway Fever, to be a toe-tappin’, knee slappin’ ride from the CD’s title track onwards.
For the 2009 concept album, Wooley teamed up with aly’an (a female country duo made up of Alyson Burke and Andrea Warner, formerly of The Wild Roses) “to show the appreciation and dedication of one of the most important everyday American heroes, ‘The American Truck Driver,'” according to the disc’s liner notes.
However, to call the album a showing of “appreciation” for truck drivers would be a gross understatement. More accurately, Highway Fever is an unabashed 11-track trucker lovefest – a fun one at that.
From the get-go, you can see how HighwayFever would serve as the perfect travelling companion for a long day of driving. The CD’s title track “Highway Fever” sets the upbeat tone – both musically and lyrically – for the album, starting with the song’s opening verse: “Temperature is rising my palms a little sweaty/This load that I’m hauling might be a little heavy/So I’m dodging all the scales and I’m running in the left lane/Having my breakfast from a coffee cup/Been running hammer down since the sun came up/Just dropped a load and I’m headed back the way I came/Running coast-to-coast on the Interstate/Hauling heavy loads and they can’t be late/Ain’t no doubt about it there’s no place I’d rather be/Highway fever’s got a hold of me.”
In ‘Things I’ve Missed,’ Wooley outlines many of the sacrifices that truckers must make for their careers, often having to miss a number of family firsts to get the job done. In the song’s bridge, Wooley reminds listeners: “Baseball, football, soccer games/never knew the score/But if it weren’t for truckers/The world would miss a whole lot more.”
Both ‘Heroes of the Highway’ and ‘America’s Compassionate Army’ paint truckers as heroic in their day-to-day jobs, making sacrifices for the sake of the rest of the country.
In ‘Last Ride Home,’ Wooley sings about a 30-year veteran dropping off his last load before retiring. “He’ll hang his keys up on the wall/But hates to call it quits/As his old body tells him so/No more logging time, no more scales to climb/And the trucker takes his last ride home.”
Women truckers get their share of coverage on the album as well, with such aptly named tracks as ‘Mother trucker,’ ‘Lady in the driver seat, and ‘Mamma’s wearing the pants’ – all fronted with the vocal stylings of aly’an, of course.
In ‘Mother trucker,’ the singers croon about “a little bitty lady with a heart as big as Texas” who “drives bigger than she seems,” before calling her a “little mother trucker, trying to make it home to her kids.”
On ‘Lady in the driver seat,’ the singers once again thank truckers for all the sacrifices they make on the road, while ‘Mamma’s wearing the pants,’ flips the notion of the “typical” trucker family on its head with the story of a trucking Mom and a stay-at-home Dad. “Daddy hauls the kids in a mini-van/I guess he’s a soccer Dad/Mama’s in a big rig running down the highway/Wearing a truckers hat,” the duo sings.
In all, Highway Fever is a catchy mix of upbeat and ballads, with enough lyrical praise for the industry to make even the toughest trucker blush, but it is certainly no slouch in terms of production value and musical content, despite being produced independently. Savvier country music fans than I might hear a little Trace Adkins in the Wooley-fronted songs, while aly’an might remind listeners of Gretchen Wilson with a pinch of the Dixie Chicks evident in their harmonies. So for country music fans who love trucking – and for truckers comfortable with a whole album’s worth of admiration – Highway Fever may be just what the doctor ordered. Catch it at www.highwayfever.net.
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