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Jake Owen

Barefoot Blue Jean Night – 2011 (RCA Nashville)

Reviewed by Michael Sudhalter

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CDs by Jake Owen

Five years ago, Jake Owen debuted on the country music charts with his twangy, yet catchy Yee Haw. Owen, who turned 30 years old on Sunday, has matured as an artist, as evidenced by the 11 songs on his third album, "Barefoot Blue Jean Saturday Night." There's plenty of versatility from southern rock to country and ballads.

The title track is one of the Florida native's biggest hits. It has a perfect chorus, and it's just right for the summer time -- whether you're relaxing at the beach or on your back porch. It sets the tone for most of the album, which has good-time feeling to it, from Apple Pie Moonshine, one of the more country-sounding tunes, as the title would suggest, to Anywhere With You. That song is about taking romance and freedom of the road, and it's lyrically similar to Rockie Lynne's Lipstick.

Any country album by a relatively new artist wouldn't be complete without a rural anthem, and Keepin' It Country is Owen's contribution to the sub-genre of country songs coming out of Nashville. He makes sure to reference a bunch of cities around the United States. And for the heck of it, name-checks Willie Nelson. He doesn't do Nelson justice in that song, but in the The Journey of Your Life, Owen comes to close to the quality of some of the material that Nelson recorded.

The Journey is the most country-sounding tune, and it's a simple, heartfelt song about a grandfather's advice to his grandson. Nobody Feelin' No Pain and The One That Got Away are definitely Southern Rock influenced, but Owen - a former Florida State golfer - hits a hole-in-one with Heaven, a ballad about a cool, romantic place where you can forget about the rest of the world and "be back by tonight."