UPROXX BEST ALBUM
41. Travis Meadows, 'First Cigarette'
Travis Meadows is a brand new old country stunner that everybody in Nashville has been talking about since his debut album, Killin’ Uncle Buzzy, began making the rounds among heavy-hitters back in 2011. A lo-fi, homespun revised collection of his journals and notes from a final, successful stint in rehab, Meadows followed that searing record up with another lowkey EP, Old Ghost & Unfinished Business in 2013.
But it wasn’t until this past year or so that Meadows scraped together enough cash to cut a country record the way he saw fit; First Cigarette is the result, a grizzled, world-weary but still beaming collection of songs that salute topics as like underdogs, backroads, and Bruce Springsteen with the same fervor and cleverness of any fresh-faced youngster singing radio-friendly fare.
Helmed by hitmaking country producer Jay Joyce, and refined and revised with and songwriter Jeremy Spillman, First Cigarette is Meadows working at the height of his powers, plumbing the depths of despair, and delivering everything from brutal, buzzy lullabies like the title track, to bluesy, zydeco kiss-offs like the ornery closer, “Long Live Cool.” Even on the album’s clear centerpiece, “Pray For Jungleland,” Meadows tempers his nostalgia with a burning appreciation for the present, something more of country’s elder statesmen could stand to emulate.–C.W.
UPROXX BEST SONG
40. Travis Meadows, 'First Cigarette'
Travis Meadows has a life that sounds like the short end of the stick. No matter. On First Cigarette, he breaks that stick in half and throws both ends into the fire, letting the pain dissolve in crackling odes that may light the way for future sufferers. As a child, Meadows lost a leg to cancer, watched helplessly as his baby brother drowned, and struggled with the demons of addiction for decades. Now sober, the title track off his new dark and stunning new country record grasps at the tiny comforts of a life now shielded from larger perils. Like a glowing ember, the song barely rises above a growling lullabye whisper, detailing every turn of desire and despair that Meadows has seen over a steely guitar backbone and echoing percussion. Burning bright and true like all the country greats, this song is a silky, resilient spark that won’t go out, no matter how many times you light it up.–C.W.