Country songwriter Jamey Johnson - who is headlining the 2012 Flint Country Music Festival - has a brand-new album that's making huge waves with mainstream music critics across the country, something a country record by a male artist hasn't done in years. But one voice is strangely missing from the buzz surrounding Johnson—the mighty roar of the country music establishment.

Johnson's album The Guitar Song is earning praise from mainstream critics in a way other artists of his ilk never have. The Rolling Stone even named the album their number 5 record of the year, beating out fellow country artist Taylor Swift, as well as critical like Drake and Robert Plant.

What does Jamey Johnson keep under all of that hair? Songs. Nashville's gruffest and grittiest star turns out to be its most reliable traditionalist, a Music Row pro who can write a song for every emotional season. Johnson pulled out a whole slew of them — 25, clocking in north of 105 minutes — for his double-disc fourth album: acoustic confessions and rugged boogie blues, big weepers and grim reapers, cover tunes and novelty ditties, not to mention "California Riots" and "Playing the Part," a pair of fiercely funny, unrepentantly redneck swipes at the frou-frou blue states.

The Rolling Stone is far from being the only music rag unexpectedly warming up to Johnson's gruff Southern style. Other outlets have praised the record too.

What The Critics Are Saying

  • The Los Angeles Times gave the record four stars out of four, calling it “real, like the kernel of truth within the tall tales swapped by studio musicians after much Jack Daniel's has been consumed.”
  • SPIN gave the album nine stars out of ten, praising Johnson's “crackerjack songcraft.”
  • In a feature story on Johnson, Billboard magazine gave the record perhaps the highest praise it has received, saying it “might be the most important country album in a decade.”

Part of the album's praise centers on its defiance of the current, glamour-centric tone in Nashville. That might also have something to do with why it's receiving a little bit of a chillier response from country music fans than it has from the mainstream music press.

“We don't like change too much round these parts,” said Rob La Gatta, president of Country Music Television. “We like our pop stars better when they trim they beards.”

What do you think of Johnson's reception by the music press?

Watch Jamey Johnson's Video for 'High Cost of Living'

2012 Flint Country Music Festival: August 2, 2012, 6 pm at McNichols Arena, 680 5th Avenue, Flint. $8; Ticketmaster.