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Jana Kramer

thirty one – 2015 (Elektra/Nashville)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Jana Kramer

Jana Kramer's sophomore effort has been a long time - more than three years since she put out her self-titled release, which contained the hit "Why Ya Wanna" - in coming. Kramer points to contemporary country sounds, while her quality singing has an urgency and comfort level with the material throughout.

The fast paced, galloping "Boomerang," which leads off the disc and was penned in party Maddie & Tae, is given more of a rock treatment than M&T would likely offer. Yet, banjo and mandolin are heard right near the beginning. "Pop That Bootle" more readily fits in the rock category.

"Don't Touch My Radio" similarly rocks, but it's so catchy, and Kramer takes clear ownership of the song with her authoritative singing where she's giving some license while taking a spin to intimacy - just so long as he does not touch her radio. Kramer is probably most country on the pretty sounding ballad "I Got the Boy" where Dobro spices the tune.

Kramer shows just what a strong singer she is by having Steven Tyler on "Bullet, another rocker. Tyler never overwhelms Kramer. It must have taken a healthy level of confidence by Kramer to even think of inviting the Aerosmith front man. Kramer gives an air of believability to the pretty sounding "Love" where she sings on the chorus, "But love, love love, I still believe in you." Kramer is now on her third marriage, so it's understandable why she would be of belief.

Producer Scott Hendricks smartly gave a lot of reign to Kramer's vocal delivery - she takes control on the mid-tempo ballad "Dance in the Rain," going soft with a bit of a hiccup in her voice to being far more forceful as well. She bears a strong resemblance to Kimberly Perry on "Just Like in the Movies, one of several songs in the pop realm.

With pop-leaning material that fits, Kramer doesn't fall victim to the sophomore slump.