Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Album Review: HIGH NOON

Jerrod Niemann seems to be one of those artists who initially broke through the national country music scene, then dropped out while retaining a niche section of the market. His 2010 single Lover, Lover was a number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, but since then, he only broke the top ten once – that is, until High Noon. His 2012 album failed to gain much momentum, but the debut single from his latest is already up to number four.

Drink to That All Night is the kind of crossover that has been racking up country airplay in recent years. The catchy tune starts with a little bit of rap in the verses, then launches into a rising pre-chorus and pounding chorus. "Everybody knows it gonna be one of those..." I love the bridge, too – the flaring hip-hop offbeats make this song completely original in the country world.

But while the single drew me in, I was disappointed that most of the other songs failed to live up to it. The opening track Space is just meh. "I just need a little space/An opening hiding place."

Buzz Back Girl doesn't have much to differentiate it from countless other comparisons between love and alcohol, and some of the lyrics are cliche. "You don't even know what you're doin' to me."

On the bright side, though, Come On, Come On is fun and laid-back. I especially like the line, "Mix the city life with some country style." Instead of building tension for an effect, this song is completely relaxed and inviting, and I think that works well.

Lucky #7 is a little self-degrading, but very well-crafted lyrically. "I look in your eyes and my only question is how did a seven wind up with an 11?" This song is personal yet lighthearted, and reminds me of Lee Brice's huge hit A Woman Like You.

Donkey is really one of the gems on this album. The lyrics become a bit suggestive by verse two, but the premise is a guy going to the bar riding, well...a donkey! You might think the outrageous scenario causes the song to lose its realism, but it actually doesn't. The rap/rock combination is awesome, too. "George Jones took a John Deere tractor/Hope my donkey gets there faster." Lol.

The hip-hop musical combinations and effects on this album are standout calibre. You really notice them in Beach Baby and later in a duet with Colt Ford titled She's Fine. The latter starts off with a keyboard-only verse, but breaks into a crooning chorus. The tune is so unconventional, but showcases Niemann's range and works as a rap song too. "You can't buy that kind of pretty/They don't grow them like that in the city."

On second thought, High Noon is completely one-of-a-kind, and I like it. However, I don't think it holds enough mainstream appeal to be wildly successful. The production values and vocals are killer, but too many of the songs are weak.

Country Luke's Rating: 7/10

Photo courtesy of facebook.com/JerrodNiemann.

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