Country musician Jamey Johnson - he of the wizard's beard and the gruff countenance - is an old-school craftsman at heart. He recorded his latest, Living for a Song, in tribute Hank Cochran, the late singer-songwriter who penned hits for country royalty like Patsy Cline and Ray Price, and the covers album includes collaborations with likeminded artists Merle Haggard, George Strait and Willie Nelson, among others.

Country musician Jamey Johnson — he of the wizard’s beard and the gruff countenance — is an old-school craftsman at heart. He recorded his latest, Living for a Song, in tribute Hank Cochran, the late singer-songwriter who penned hits for country royalty like Patsy Cline and Ray Price, and the covers album includes collaborations with likeminded artists Merle Haggard, George Strait and Willie Nelson, among others.

Though his name is on the record’s marquee, Johnson happily cedes the spotlight to his various guests, playing genial sideman on songs that move as casually an older gentleman sauntering through the park on a sunny Sunday afternoon. He won’t have to share the stage here, however, and expect increased urgency when he revisits songs from past records, including his excellent 2010 double-LP The Guitar Song. You know that one acquaintance who says he or she listens to “anything but country”? This is the guy who could finally alter that equation.

Photo courtesy of Jamey Johnson