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Eli Young Band

10,000 Towns – 2014 (Republic Nashville)

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

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CDs by Eli Young Band

As an eight-time veteran of the Billboard Country Charts (including three number one singles), Eli Young Band sticks with a winning formula on its fifth release, "10,000 Towns." The 11 tracks are dominated by radio ready numbers with catchy melodies and big choruses.

The title was inspired by the Dallas band's road travels, and the quartet has typically relied on outside songwriters. Will Hoge weighed in on two numbers here. However, all four EYB members contributed on this effort. Reflective of their new chapters as husbands and fathers, it takes no thematic chances. With titles such as A Lot Like Love and Angel Like You, it is far more domesticated than the edgy heartland rock infused "Life At Best" which spawned the megahits Crazy Girl and Even If It Breaks Your Heart.

Of course, there are the standard country themes of Drunk Last Night and the title track. It involves a six pack, kissing a blond haired beauty and, of course, a main street.

Musically, the band is in top form. Throughout, James Young's guitar work ranges from deft to scorching, and front man Mike Eli's vocals are smooth and emotive. The highlights are the rollicking Dust where the girl has the "pedal to the metal in (what else) a hand me down Ford" and the incredibly touching Prayer For The Roadwhere Eli shines as a balladeer. Frank Liddell's crisp production keeps the 40 minutes from sounding completely sterilized. Now sitting atop the Billboard Country Album chart, it's a safe play that has clearly paid off - at least commercially.