"Unless you count the one record that John Scott Sherrill released nearly three decades ago as a member of a group called Billy Hill, this is his debut album. So why does he sound like a polished veteran? Probably partly because he has spent those three decades (and more) writing hits—including 11 chart-toppers—for some of country’s biggest artists, among them John Anderson, Alison Kraus, George Strait, and Patty Loveless. And his interpreters aren’t limited to country: he has also been covered by everyone from Jimmy Buffett and Peter Wolf to Steve Earle and Mick Jagger. Some of the songs that have netted big royalties for Sherrill over the years are included on this album, which also features a few previously unheard tunes. None of them blaze new stylistic trails—Sherrill is mainstream Nashville all the way—but Mr. Honky Tonk is nevertheless first rate. The material reconfirms the artist’s writing talents while also leaving no doubt that Sherrill—who sounds redolent of Anderson and George Jones—can sing ’em as well as he writes ’em."
— Jeff Burger / No Depression
JOHN SCOTT SHERRILL/Mr. Honky Tonk
Writers: Sherrill/Robbins/Wright; Producers: John Scott Sherrill, Josh Matheny, Brad Stella; Publishers: Lobo Libre/TreCor/Blair’s Boy/ClearBox Rights, BMI/ASCAP; Lobro Libre/DeFacto
"Scotty has been writing giant hits for others for four decades. But apart from his stint in Billy Hill, he hasn’t made records. This is the title tune of a debut solo album that changes all that. Sung in a pleading folkie tenor, it’s a solid country two-step produced with finesse. The CD is dominated by new tunes, but also contains ear-opening versions of JSS hits better known in versions by such stars as Patty Loveless (”Nothin’ But the Wheel”), Josh Turner (”Would You Go With Me”), Steve Wariner (”Some Fools Never Learn”) and John Anderson (”Wild and Blue”)."
— Robert K. Oermann / Music Row
"Five Stars! Well-covered Nashville songwriter and collaborator John Scott Sherrill serves up brand new offerings as well as his own renditions of songs penned for artists such as John Anderson and Patty Loveless. Mr. Sherrill’s convincing common man vocal delivery shines atop modestly masterful production and first-rate small group backup. Standouts in a strong set include “Nothing But The Wheel”, “That’s Just You”, “Some Fools Never Learn” and the title track."
— Duane Verh / Roots Music Report
"John Scott Sherrill likes to tell the story of his initial arrival in Nashville. It occurred during a rain-swept night that nearly turned into a catastrophe when his car broke down and he got soaked to the skin. Happily, his time in that town improved significantly from that point on, and the only significant splash he weathered after that was when he subsequently took the city by storm. Now a successful songwriter, he’s enjoyed eleven number one hits courtesy of covers by such stars as John Anderson, Patty Loveless, Josh Turner, Steve Wariner, Brooks & Dunn, George Strait, Alison Krauss, Jimmy Buffett, Peter Wolf, Mindy Smith, and, his bio claims, Mick Jagger. That’s a pretty impressive client roster, and it doesn’t even include his co-compositions with luminaries like Steve Earle, Michael McDonald, Steve Cropper, Peter Frampton, Shawn Camp, and Dave Loggins.
"So why have we never heard of this guy? Perhaps it’s because songwriters aren’t subject to the glitz and glamor accorded those that actually sing the songs.
"With his expressly titled new album, Mr. Honky Tonk, Sherrill now has a significant shot at claiming some of that fame for himself. While several of the songs in the set find him retracing material written for others -- “Some Fools Never Learn,” “Wild and Blue,” “Nothin’ But The Wheel,” and “Would You Go With Me,” among them -- the tracks found alongside are equally engaging and just as worthy of regular rotation. Some are silly; “Itty Bitty Fiddle” and “Burglars in the Neighborhood” are the sort of fluff best suited to barroom bravado. Others however -- the pedal steel-drenched title track, the reflective ballad “Sweeter Than Sugar Cane,” the sturdy narrative “Before the Going Gets Rough,” chief among them -- are by turns, punchy and poignant, the sort of songs that typify an artist of Sherill’s experience and expertise.
"Taken in tandem, Mr. Honky Tonk typifies its title, remaining true to basic grassicana precepts, with steel guitar, fiddles, dobro and mandolin all playing prominent parts in the mix. Sherrill’s country credence is obviously intact, and the tapping of tradition plays a role as well. Mostly though, it’s superior songs that make the most marked impression, and in that regard Mr. Honky Tonk earns both reverence and respect."
— Lee Zimmerman / Bluegrass Today