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Joel Crouse

Even The River Runs – 2014 (Show Dog - Universal label)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Joel Crouse

The title of Joel Crouse's debut may seem like an obvious statement, but what was not so clear was when his debut would finally happen. Since signing with Toby Keith's label in 2011, the Massachusetts native released three singles plus one other promoted by his label. He has not exactly set the charts on fire, although he did benefit from opening for Taylor Swift on her "Red" tour.

Crouse's very smooth, soulful delivery suits the 10 songs just fine, although you're not going to hear any twang (it's not until the fourth song, "Summer Love" that banjo comes into the mix - that is until electric guitars take over for a stretch.

This collection leans heavily towards the soulful variety of what passes for country, but at least Crouse has a few bright sounding, catchy songs to start him in that direction - "Don't Tell Me" and "If You Want Some," one of the best songs here. The organ that dominates the start of "Slow Motion" and Crouse's soft crooning emphasizes the R&B sound that underpins Crouse's sound.

The problem is that while most of the songs are certainly serviceable - "Why God Made Love Songs" does not fall into that category starting with the silly idea contained in the title and the clichés of footballs, trucks and growing decades older - the problem is that there is nothing here that would cause Crouse to stand out from the pack. There may be songs of love lost and pain, but the singing and playing are pain free and, at times, breezy.

As Crouse wrote in his thank yous on liner notes, this producer Jamie Houston, "We finally have an album out, man." Congrats on simply getting an album out, as it's not easy to persevere through singles that fail to make an impact. But that wasn't enough in this case.