Jake Owen aims to satisfy all comers (that is, if the current country is your thing), but the individual pieces don't quite add up. The songs may stand up on their own well enough, but when all is said and done, Owen remains an artist without much of an identity or sound. Take, for example, Beachin', one of countless country songs about the good life. Like many of his counterparts these days, there's a spoken, neo hip hop rap part to it. The song is breezy, on the catchy side, but just doesn't manage to cut all that deep.
1972 has a good beat - with a southern rock edge to it with twin guitars and piano - but name checking Dylan, Keith Moon, Hendrix, Joplin and Morrison doesn't quite cut it either. This from a guy who had the false advertising song Keepin' It Country and a Willie reference on his hit-laden last disc "Barefoot Blue Jean Night."
Interestingly, Owen said he wanted to go beyond his previous discs and offer varying sounds, but there's not a lot here that differentiates the singer from his contemporaries on the country scene. If his idea of stretching out lyrically - something else he said he was striving to do - in a song like Life of the Party, the Floridian set the bar awfully low for himself. Maybe Owen ought to start writing his own material instead of relying on Nashville songwriters. The songs veer overwhelmingly towards the commercial side with a beat to match.
Owen sings well enough, although not especially distinctive on materials that is not the most exciting. Parties, relationships and drinking (the Caribbean lilt of Tall Glass of Something and the silly Tipsy) are part of the mix, but frankly we've heard it all before. And that's the problem. Kenny Chesney has done these types of songs, only a lot better and with far more introspection and depth. Four albums into a successful recording career, Owen once again fails to carve out his own musical niche.