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Cole Swindell

Cole Swindell – 2014 (Warner)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Cole Swindell

It's almost as if Cole Swindell's producer told him to concentrate hard and picture himself performing before a sold out stadium crowd when he wrote these songs because nearly everything on the artist's self-titled album is an anthem - little is subtle or left to the imagination. Whether he's giving a great, big shout out to the crowd with "Hey Y'all" or giving his girl a quiet squeeze from the cheap seats on "Swayin'," Swindell swings for the fence almost every time. "Get Up" is a song literally about getting a girl up on his shoulders, and is once again tailor made for arena country.

Nothing is more annoying than "Brought To You by Beer," which is only missing the name brand sponsorship to be a complete sellout. After all, back in the day, Neil Young wrote a scathing song about corporate sponsorship called "This Note's For You." At least Brad Paisley treated the country music community's brew obsession with a little humor on "Alcohol." It's bad enough that some perfectly good country concerts turn into expensive keg parties, but to include a song that encourages rampant alcohol abuse is borderline irresponsibility.

Swindell attempts to make amends for all this partying by giving a tip of his ball cap to God with "The Back Roads & The Back Row," which closes the CD. But it comes off more as an All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Southern style, than any kind of inspirational hymn.

Swindell sings just fine and helped to write these mostly literate songs. But it all amounts to a concert where one goes for the party atmosphere - the music is little more than another atmospheric element. You may catch a buzz from it, but you won't remember much of note after all's said and done.