Album Review: The Shotgun Seat

Michael Monroe Goodman’s ‘The Flag, The Bible and Bill Monroe’ is Traditional Country Gold 

By: Markus Meyer 

Recently emerging in the underground world of country music is traditionalist Michael Monroe Goodman. Hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, Goodman has constructed an album filled top-to-bottom with rich, well constructed traditional country music. Each track represents a throwback to the days of dominant steel guitar, and flows cohesively into the next. 

The Flag, The Bible and Bill Monroe is an album that is both parts fun and serious. It’s a well-balanced project that introduces Goodman as an artist to keep an eye on, as well as one that is fit for repeat listens. Between the abundance of traditional country instruments, and Goodman’s superb vocals, this is a project that reminds us of what country music truly is, and what it should strive to be. 

The album’s best moments are the low-key ones; the heart wrenching ode to his mother who left the family young, “She Was Mine; the simple yet effective “Tinkerbell Love Song”; the autobiographical title track, which depicts sources of hope and inspiration for the narrator. Each one tells a different story, and yet feels completely at home among each other. With well constructed lyrical content, a strong production and brilliant storytelling courtesy of Goodman, they’re all brilliant tracks that come highly recommended. 

The instrumentation also stands out as especially strong throughout, with different sounds showcased throughout. The jaunty “Drunk Again” relies heavily on the banjo, “It Never Rains” features the ever-underrated harmonica, while the steel guitar is a star throughout “If She Knew”. It demonstrates a respect for the roots of the genre, and helps in the developing the cohesiveness of the album. 

This isn’t to say however, that the uptempo’s don’t work. Despite some songwriting that hardly comes off as brilliant, the undeniably country instrumentation as well as Goodman’s enthusiasm elevate them to be tracks more than worthy of a thumps-up. The bouncy “Yay! Friday” and “Maple Inn” are decently written compositions that, while not among the album’s high points, are very much worthy of recognition. 

In fact, what’s perhaps most impressive about the collection is with just how much proficiency each song is done. Whether it be the uptempos or ballads, Michael Monroe Goodman performs each one with tremendous skill. That type of versatility is a rare ability among country performers today, which only further help Goodman establish himself as a standout, even among the underground world. 

When it comes down to it, The Flag, The Bible and Bill Monroe is a well-sung collection of well-written songs that are produced well. There’s no studio bombast, no flashy guitar solos, and the results speak for themselves. This album is what country music should be: well-written, well-sung songs held up by a simple, traditional production. Goodman stripped the music down to it’s origins, and what we got was an album well worth paying attention to. 

In an industry that finds many relying on extravagant tricks and stunts for attention, this kind of music needs to be heard and appreciated. With The Flag, The Bible and Bill Monroe, Michael Monroe Goodman has established himself as a musical force, and someone to watch going forward. He could have big things coming in the future.

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