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Eli Young Band

Life At Best – 2011 (Republic Nashville)

Reviewed by Michael Sudhalter

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CDs by Eli Young Band

The Eli Young Band combines a pop-rock sound with country sensibilities - a formula that drew a larger following in Texas/Red Dirt Music scene. With their radio-friendly sound (some Red Dirt fans referred to them as Rascal Flatts of the Texas country scene), Texans knew it was only a matter of time before they took their talents to Nashville. Their debut, "Jet Black and Jealous," featured a couple of hits that resonated with fans outside of Texas - the remake of When It Rains and Only The Love Songs.

EYB's sophomore release - this time on Republic Nashville - is an energy-packed 14-song disc with good songwriting and very little filler. The first single, Crazy Girl, is a mid-tempo tune that uses the double entendre of loving someone a lot ("like crazy") and according to the video, someone who is (or who is believed to be), mentally insane. The song speaks to the loyalty of the narrator, who loves this woman despite the challenges she is facing. EYB definitely finds its Bon Jovi/Mellencamp/Springsteen vein with those encouragement songs where the lyrics are like a musical pep talk. They encourage listeners to follow their dreams Even If It Breaks Your Heart, and The Fight has a similar meaning; they remind us in the title track that "life at best is a struggle" - quite true, especially in these trying economic times.

Skeletons talks about putting the past behind you - another important lesson. My Old Man's Son is a poignant father-son song, and there are few of those gems in country music. How Quickly You Forget adds a unique harmony chorus - something rarely heard in country music today, and War On A Desperate Man would have fit in alongside Corey Hart, in the 1980's rock.

There are a couple of missteps, such as the syrupy, I Love You. The Falling is too cliché, and it has the same message - yet much different melody than a 1998 song by fellow Texan, David Kersh - "it's not the fall...it's the sudden stop."