Willie Mack
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Willie Mack

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"Album Review"

Texas-bred singer/songwriter Willie Mack makes his sophomore album appearance with a collection of tunes that have a distinct Canadian involvement, thanks largely to his long-time partnering with Gilles Godard, who continues to play a role in the Willie Mack success story by contributing three more tunes on this album including the album’s title track, Headlights & Tailpipes. Montreal-based songwriter Jeff Nystrom is a co-writer on that song as well, and other Canadian co-writers here include Jason McCoy (Gonna Get Me A Cadillac); Johnny Reid (You’ve Gotta Blame Somethin’); and Doc Walker’s Chris Thorsteinson and Wasyliw chipping in on Blacktop Time. Just to carry Willie Mack’s Canuck involvement a little deeper, he has written recent hit songs by Adam Gregory, George Canyon, Brad Johner, etc.

The album’s main theme throughout deals with “highway drivin” – several songs involve the blacktop and Chevy’s and racing getaways…but when Willie Mack moves outside that realm, he strikes gold on a couple of special tunes here. Golden Years is a message song (co-written with Gilles Godard) that deals with a dad and his kids and how life moves too fast ---so better remember the early ‘golden years’ before the children grow into adults.

Another neat twist here comes in the untitled song. “ “. You’re right, that’s a blank in between the quotation marks, and the premise of the song is something akin to the 1976 George Jones hit “Her Name Is… on which the steel guitar filled in the “blank” name. This is just another example of the creative process that comes with Willie Mack… a talent to watch for. - Country Music News


Discography

Don't Waste Your Pretty
Gonna' Get Me a Cadillac
Golden Years
Headlights & Tailpipes
We All Can't Be From Texas

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Bio

Adventure is your soul when you're a genuine Texas-bred music man. That's why when you pluck a singer like Willie Mack out of the lone star state and throw him in Nashville, he's still gotta ramble.

It's that restless spirit that Mack channels so perfectly on his second album, Headlights And Tailpipes. His first release for Open Road Recordings is all lonely highways, fast cars, open skies and racing back to get to the ones you love.

"It seems like I'm just happiest when I'm moving," says Mack. "Traveling, being in a hurry to get somewhere, off to see something new. That's just the way I am. I really got into writing songs like, you say goodbye to someone and you're leavin', or you're on your way to somebody."

That's exactly what the album's title track is about. "Back when I was engaged to my wife, she was still in Texas and I was writing songs in Nashville and going to school," Mack says. "And it was a 12 hour drive. And sometimes I would skip class on Fridays, just hop in the car and drive all night just to get to her. It's that energy you have when you're young and in love."

That same energy went into the new album. A dynamic record that recalls Dwight Yoakam and Steve Earle, Mack literally traveled across North America to record Headlights And Tailpipes. He did time in Toronto, Ontario with Jason McCoy of The Road Hammers as producer. From there were Nashville sessions at The Groove Room. Then it was back to Texas to stomp and shuffle some songs out with his live touring band mates. Buzzing first single "Gotta Get Me A Cadillac" was almost the result more of misadventure than adventure, though.

"McCoy and I were in Nashville," says Mack. "We went to lunch and McCoy's driving his big white pickup truck and I'm along with him and this green Cadillac pulls right in front of us on 17th Avenue. And he slams on the breaks and says, 'Dang, I almost had me a Cadillac.' And he looked at me and I looked at him and by the time we got two more blocks to the office we had the song half-finished."

Considering Mack has written for the likes of Sara Evans, George Canyon, Oak Ridge Boys, Collin Raye, Mark Willis, Sons Of The Desert and Adam Gregory, it's no surprise he can effortlessly turn such moments into song. The sweet number "Golden Years" came from a wild family meal at the Cracker Barrel.

"My wife and I, we've got two kids, a seven year old son and a four year old daughter," says Mack. "So, we're here at the Cracker Barrel and my daughter's got food in her hair and on her face and my son is being ornery. As a parent you're just like, 'Can we have the check please?' Then slip out with our tails between our legs feeling awful. And right before we leave, this older gentleman comes over and he goes, 'I just want to tell you, these kids you have..’And we're thinkin' 'Oh, no, what's he gonna say?' And he says '... these kids you have, they're beautiful children. I just want to tell you it's these years when they're growin', these are the golden years.' Being a songwriter, of course I was moved by this statement.

"But I was also thinkin' 'That sounds like a great song!' The moment he left I was, like, 'I gotta have a pen.'"

It's these adventures great and small that make Headlights And Tailpipes. And it's also why a Texan in Nashville travels up to Canada to record part of his record. Mack's travels to the great white north didn't happen by accident either.

" I started to get a few Canadian artists recording my cuts," says Mack. "So, I was wondering, 'How were they finding out about me up there?' Then I started looking into it and started meeting a lot of these artists and making friends with 'em and writing songs
with 'em.

"It's so much more alive and interesting in Canada than what we're doing in Nashville," he continues. "Up there, everyone's doing their own thing — like Corb Lund, The Road Hammers or Johnny Reid — they all have their own voice. I really want to be involved in
something like that. So I'm experimenting to see how the Canadian industry will receive me."

It'll be with open arms, no doubt. Mack may have developed his adventurous nature in the heart of Texas, but traveling the open roads and great distances are universal. It's that energy that defines Headlights And Tailpipes.

"To me there's just an exciting energy," says Mack of his album. "It's just a less polished, exciting, edgy fun. I didn't want it to sound very slick. I wanted it to sound fun and moving, all the things I grew up loving. And I think it accomplished that."

www.williemack.com