Music » Critics' Picks

Jamey Johnson

7 p.m. Sunday, December 13. Pop's, 401 Monsanto Avenue, Sauget, Illinois.

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The outlaw archetype in country music goes back to Depression-era string-band maniac Charlie Poole, evolves on through Hank Williams Sr., Jr. and III, and includes the Texans who shaped the image into a genre in the '70s. Since then, Nashville hat-bots and tattooed steam punks — poseurs Hank Sr. would have eaten for jail-cell lunch — have done their worst to co-opt the outsider spirit. Enter Jamey Johnson, whose success shocks the Music City star system. Looking like a cross between Waylon Jennings and Rob Zombie, Johnson is less a hell raiser than a songwriting bar raiser. Hits like "The Dollar" and "In Color" are detailed and epic, and delivered with a rugged, untutored baritone that only deepens the way Johnson captures the meaning at the margins of working-class life.

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