“Daddy watched John Wayne on a corduroy couch, didn’t know Texas from a hole in the ground, but it roped me in. That’s where it all began.” H-O-L-Y HELL. This is the opening line to the debut album from soon to be superstar Kameron Marlowe. If you aren’t immediately sitting in this living room in your mind, I need you to listen to that opening again until it hits you how it hit me. “We Were Cowboys” is the title track for what I can pretty confidently say will land on many end of year Top 10 lists, it’s that good! Kameron had already burst on to the scene back in 2019 with the smash hit “Giving You Up” and followed it with several singles that highlighted his vocal prowess (“Burn ‘Em All” / “Steady Heart”) but also a wide range of relatable and captivating subject matter (“Sober As a Drunk” / “Girl On Fire”). Kameron has made his presence known these last couple years but this time he is kicking the saloon doors in and announcing that he is HERE TO STAY! Move over Bradley Cooper, ‘A Star is Born’ and his name is Kameron Marlowe.
The title track alone has such great imagery and is so relatable as we reminisce on our own childhoods. It takes you back to a simpler time when we were all wild and free and just like our favorite shows, where the good guys won and the bad guys lost (See Photo). Another undertone of the song is the discussion that has gone on for a few years in country music about who is “country-er” and what is or isn’t country. I’m not here to get in that debate nor is Kameron Marlowe. He’s here to highlight how our cowboy idols like John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, or dare I say Walker Texas Ranger (Mr. Chuck Norris for a younger crowd) acted in a way that we all did as kids. Country isn’t just on the farm, or in certain regions, it is a state of mind. This hits home for a guy like me who grew up in a Midwest suburb in a blue-collar family. Maybe I wasn’t plowing fields and hunting every fall but my parents worked hard for what we had and taught me the same lessons in working hard and treating others right. As Kameron put it, “we never made it 8 (seconds), never won a buckle, but man we were something”, “We Were Cowboys”.
I won’t bore you to death with this long of a breakdown for all 16 songs (until you request it) but these first two truly do rope you in. With “We Were Cowboys” and “Country Boy’s Prayer” he lands a hell of a 1, 2 punch. I’m sure we’ve all missed a few Sundays and Kameron decided he needed to pull over and turn his truck into a church. He asks that if you “ain’t too busy making this world go round”:
“Could you hold back the city from the family farm
Put some bass in the pond as long as my arm
Give me one more season with my bird dog Bo
Some Charlie Daniels on the radio
Can you bring everybody overseas back safe
And one of these years let the boys win state
And let grandpa watch it through the pearly gates up there
And if it ain’t out of line
Could you find a little time for a country boy’s prayer?”
These requests are so relatable and make this song truly resonate while continuing the theme of what being country really means. Played live, I think “Country Boy’s Prayer” will wind up being a crowd favorite and hopefully we’ll get a longer version of that guitar riff that leaves you begging for more.
The other song that stands out as a future crowd favorite is “Granny’s Got A Garden”. Let’s just say the title had me thinking this song was going a completely different direction. This song nails the imagery again starting with a picture frame of an old concert ticket, the grocery list on a phone bill, and Granny watching Wheel of Fortune with a never ending bowl of candy on the coffee table. Granny got the chance to see Jimi (Hendrix) live at Woodstock in ’69. She’s known for the best cobbler in town but man, there is just something about her brownies. “She’s got Jesus in her heart, and Willie in her soul.” What he’s trying to tell you is, Granny isn’t just a botanist who loves to grow tomatoes. “When her back gets to hurtin’, you might smell something burnin’”. If you don’t get it by now, then I’m not sure you ever will. This song is also awesome to me because although it probably applies to some of your grandparents, trying to picture either of my grandmothers having this level of “green thumb” is simply hysterical.
“Money Ain’t $hit” is another stand out track. The song hammers home a message I know we have all heard a thousand times but seem to still struggle to hear.
“With muddy old boots or get around in your dirty bare feet
You can live in a trailer underneath a bridge
Having just enough ain’t a wrong way to live
Life ain’t about price tags, Cadillacs, or first class seats
‘Cause money ain’t shit at the end of the day
It don’t love back, no it ain’t a fair trade
Can’t buy back time, you let it get away”
Everyone tries to tell you how fast life flies by so the way I see it: go to the concert, meet up with your friends, and most importantly call your Momma. Remember “You work to live, you don’t live to work”. Older generations don’t want us having the same regrets and as Kameron puts it “’Cause on them streets of gold, yeah buddy, Money ain’t shit”.
As you can probably tell by now, I could go on and on (and on) about Kameron Marlowe and this album, they are just THAT GOOD! I haven’t even touched on “This Old Town”, the quintessential town you can’t wait to leave yet somehow never do. One of the best elements of this album though is how it has varying styles of songs as well as subject matter yet is still extremely relatable. This is no more evident than in the EMOTIONAL RELATIONSHIP ROLLERCOASTER RIDE that they take you on throughout the album. Sticking with the cowboy theme, this album has it all when it comes to relationships: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. With several of these being the pre-released singles, I won’t do a deep dive on each one. For whatever stage of a relationship you are in, there is a song for you.
The Good – Girl On Fire, Burn ‘Em All, Steady Heart, Long Way Down
The Bad – Does It Have to Be Over, Fool Me Again, Start Over Now, Running Out On You
The Ugly – Giving You Up, (Her) Saying Goodbye, Ain’t Enough Whiskey
This emotional ride is riddled with intense writing and Kameron’s powerful vocals that immediately take you to a time when you (or someone you know) were in his shoes. Kameron highlights his vocal range going from sultry love songs with crisp vocals to borderline dark and angsty reminiscent of 2000s Alternative Rock. If I didn’t know any better you could convince me the beginning of “Ain’t Enough Whiskey” was Brett Eldredge and you can hear it again in “Running Out On You”. We have those juxtaposed with the Alt-Rock leaning “Giving You Up”, “Burn ‘Em All”, and “Over Now” that take me back to the sounds of Linkin Park, Seether, and Breaking Benjamin. I see these influences heavily mixed into his country lyrics and sound. This mixture is especially great for a guy like me who swore to his parents that he would “never listen to country”, OOPS!
With 5 singles already released including the title track “We Were Cowboys” in the weeks leading up, we knew this album would have some serious juice. It would have been easy for Kameron and the team to let those songs carry the load and simply fill out an album around them. They balked at that idea and put together an absolute WORK OF ART with this 16 track album that has truly zero (I said ZERO!) skips! Credit to Kameron, the writers (see credits below), producers Brad Hill and Dann Huff, and the whole team with Columbia Nashville/Sony Music Nashville. With powerhouse vocals showcased in varying styles, impeccable storytelling, a truly wild ride of relationship emotions, and a slew of radio quality hits, Kameron Marlowe has hit an absolute home run with his debut album. I fully anticipate seeing it on many year-end lists. Kameron certainly burst onto the scene with “Giving You Up” but with “We Were Cowboys” he has announced that not only is he here to stay, he is an absolute force to be reckoned with! And it’s hard to not root for a guy this grateful, humble, and who puts his heart on display like this.
I could truly go on forever with this album but with that said, if you haven’t already go set aside an hour (59 minutes 2 seconds to be exact) and check it out. If you are a music and lyric buff like me do yourself a favor and take a deeper dive when you’re not driving, at the gym, or however you normally listen to music. The intricacies of the storytelling are a real treat and you will gain a whole new level of appreciation for the craft and this album as a whole. If you haven’t gotten your fix of Kameron Marlowe insight, check out this article where our fearless leader Nicky T told you this was coming.
Kameron kicks off the “We Were Cowboys” Tour Sept. 8th at the Brooklyn Bowl in Nashville with singer/songwriter Wyatt McCubbin. Note that Wyatt helped pen 4 songs on the album. You do NOT want to miss seeing these songs and vocals live, so be sure to check for dates near you.
See the full track listing below.
1. We Were Cowboys (*Kameron Marlowe, Wyatt McCubbin, Tyler Farr)
2. Country Boy’s Prayer (*Casey Beathard, Dan Isbell, Reid Isbell)
3. Girl On Fire (*Kameron Marlowe, Jason Gantt, Josh Osborne)
4. Giving You Up (*Kameron Marlowe)
5. Does It Have to Be Over (*Kameron Marlowe, Josh Hoge, Wyatt McCubbin)
6. This Old Town (*Kameron Marlowe, Tyler Farr, Wyatt McCubbin)
7. Money Ain’t $hit (*Casey Beathard, Brice Long, Shane Minor)
8. Fool Me Again (*Kameron Marlowe, Rob Williford, Brad Warren, Brett Warren)
9. Burn ‘Em All (*Kameron Marlowe, Brinley Addington, Joey Hyde, Aaron Eshuis)
10. Steady Heart (*Kameron Marlowe, Jessi Alexander, Dan Isbell)
11. Over Now (*Tucker Beathard, Jake Mitchell)
12. Saying Goodbye (*Carson Chamberlain, Wyatt McCubbin, Mark Nesler)
13. Ain’t Enough Whiskey (*Kameron Marlowe, John Pierce, Dan Isbell)
14. Runnin’ Out On You (*Alex Maxwell, Dawson Edwards, Liam Stolly)
15. Granny’s Got a Garden (For G’maw Jan) (*Kameron Marlowe, Rob Williford, Brad Warren, Brett Warren)
16. Long Way Down (*C. Michael Spriggs, Craig Wiseman)
Songs 4 and 9 produced by Brad Hill; All others produced by Dann Huff