I Got the T-Shirt
Beckham Makes Strong Statement With Second Album 'I Got The T-Shirt' An Emotional Testimony By Luke Gilliam Donna Beckham hates to say 'I told you so.' But, well... 'It's an I-told-you-so album,' Beckham said of 'I Got The T-Shirt', which was released in May 2008. The Texas native's second album is an emotionally-charged effort. Beckham drew from the death of a friend, the breakup of her longtime band, and all manner of human relationship as lyrical fodder. Her vivid storytelling and a tightened sound make 'I Got The T-Shirt' a solid springboard off her well-received self-title debut. This go-round, Beckham left no bullets in her pistol. 'I put everything I have emotionally and physically into this album,' Beckham said. 'I love classic country music , but I feel I have more soul and energy that I wanted to pour out. It sounds like a woman who's a little pissed off!' The album's attitude is pointed at Beckham's career hurdles and self-doubt. She decided to give up her passion - live performing - in the wake of her band breakup and focus solely on songwriting. She regained her mojo playing a wedding reception at a chili cookoff of all places. Beckham laughs at this memory. Her self-imposed hiatus lasted two weeks. 'I needed some time away from the music scene, but folks kept calling,' Beckham said. 'My gift is singing and songwriting. And every time I forget that, God puts something in my life that gives me that desire back. As long as I have something left in me, I'm going to keep doing it.' The album was recorded in Nashville over two years as Beckham headed to the studio whenever the stockpile reached a boiling point. Despite the odd schedule, the album has a cohesive sound. Beckham said she benefited from A-list studio musicians and a newfound ability to articulate her vision for each song. 'I'm a live performer. The studio is a lot of work for me, as far as getting into it with no crowd,' Beckham said. 'But I worked with the same musicians and same producer so we built a rapport. If I told them I wanted a Waylon sound, they gave it to me.' Beckham's diversity is typified in her influences. She said the album has a little Sheryl Crow, a touch of Waylon Jennings and a hint of Janis Joplin. That vibe adds up to an album with oomph. The first radio release 'Hell And Back Again' incubated in the archives for years before the sound came together. The track is a catchy cautionary tale about chasing dreams. The title track 'I Got The T-Shirt' is a funky, soulful number about the residue left in the life of someone who has been there and done that. 'Randy's Song' is an upbeat tribute to Beckham's friend, Randy Leasley, who died in a house fire. Beckham wrote 'Girl With My Guitar' in 30 minutes after her band of eight years dissolved. 'You won't find a love song on the album,' Beckham said. 'But it's a good album that people are going to want to sing along to in their car and beat their hand on the steering wheel to.' It's an exceptional album primarily because of Beckham's songwriting. The experience she gained from her first album, coupled with a fine-tuned radar for material led to a pleasantly unpredictable album. 'I've turned into a good listener. Everything is a song now,' Beckham said. 'After the first album, I wondered, 'Can I do this again?' Now I feel like I can call myself a legitimate singer-songwriter.' Not that it was easy...Beckham has had her trials and tribulations - one she hopes have made her a stronger artist. 'We all know the music business is a cutthroat business. I didn't believe it when they told me it was harder for a woman, but now I believe; I've seen the evidence.' But that obstacle isn't slowing her down. If anything, it's extra incentive. 'It can be little things like seeing the Texas music chart and seeing one or two, if any, women on there,' Beckham said. 'That lights afire under my butt. I want to do this.'