Thursday, 27 March 2014

Album Review: 10,000 TOWNS

Besides Zac Brown Band, there really aren't a lot of high-profile bands in country music. Some might have called Eli Young Band a one-hit wonder after their 2011 single Crazy Girl, but they followed up with another number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in Even If It Breaks Your Heart.

The album 10,000 Towns is best described as twangy country with pop vocals. Lead singer Mike Eli has a distinctly soft, high voice – very different from the more in-your-face, at times raw vocals of the most popular artists like Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton. Personally, I think that's what gives the band such a solid niche.

If you listen to country radio, you will have surely heard the album's number three single Drunk Last Night. The lyrics are ambiguous, but Eli basically sings about being tipsy, calling up a girl, and expressing his feelings for her. "It's off my chest but never off my mind." As the theme suggests, the lyrics are more rambling than a chronological story, but you can still feel the emotion behind every word. Eli's vocal control allows him to really play with the mood and build up to the chorus.

Surprisingly, the title track is probably my favourite overall. I love the reference to "redneck hip-hop" too! This could be a huge country anthem this summer, and encapsulates the culture of rural communities from a teenage perspective. "Sneakin' a six pack kiss at a red light/Circlin' up out back behind that Texaco." My only complaint is that the chorus is long. Still, the instrumentation and fast-punching vocals give it excellent radio potential.

Dust is the band's current single, although it's just starting to break into mainstream radio. It's a third-person runaway's song about a girl leaving a relationship gone sour. The imagery in this story is great: "She's got the pedal to the floor in a hand-me-down Ford." The melody is catchy, but the overall vibe doesn't really move me.

It's hard to pick just a few songs to analyze, because they are all unique from each other. Kudos for the accordion in the intro of Let's Do Something Tonight. Just a songwriting nitpick: The chorus goes, "Let's do something tonight we'll be talkin' about in the morning." Since the song is a one-on-one conversation from a man to a woman, wouldn't it have more impact to use "they'll" instead of "we'll"?

Your Last Broken Heart is totally feel-good and is a good change-up from the poor-me breakup songs some artists never break away from. The punchline is clever and simple: "Your last broken heart was your last broken heart." And honestly, the rest of the lyrics would be good enough to stand alone without it.

Just Add Moonlight is very similar to Randy Houser's Runnin' Outta Moonlight, but I'm glad Eli Young Band didn't scrap it from its album. This list song is overly idealistic, but well-crafted. "Kisses are sweeter and the world seems right/With that big yellow ball shining in her eyes."

I could see Eli Young Band eventually taking over from Rascal Flatts as the next pop-country male group in a few years. I wouldn't say 10,000 Towns is the most memorable album I have ever heard, but there are some standout songs.

Country Luke's Rating: 7.5/10

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