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Old Dominion

Meat and Candy – 2015 (RCA Nashville)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Old Dominion

Old Dominion may be releasing its full-length debut, but this quintet is not filled with newbies. Lead singer Matthew Ramsey co-wrote "Chainsaw" for The Band Perry and with band mate Trevor Rosen penned Craig Morgan's "Wake Up Lovin' You" and Dierks Bentley's "Say You Do." Rosen also co-wrote Chris Young's "Neon," Blake Shelton's "Sangria" and The Band Perry's "Better Dig Two," while Brad Tursi wrote Tyler Farr's "A Guy Walks Into a Bar."

For all of the hit making power of Old Dominion, "been there, done that" seems to have been the M.O. here. Ramsey has a smooth sounding, soulful-oriented voice ("Snapback") that fits well with the material, but the band doesn't do all that much to distinguish itself from the country fare on the airwaves.

Like their contemporaries, the material is all about trying to forge relationships in a catchy, sing-along mode. It's real easy to imagine the crowd singing along with Ramsey "Is your glass half full or is it half empty?" on "Half Empty."

Programming or synths signal the start of "Wrong Turns," putting Old Dominion squarely in the contemporary country framework. While there is some banjo, resonator guitar and mandolin sprinkled among the 11 songs, that is not where Old Dominion is at musically. It's more like electric guitars, giving a rock sheen to the material.

"Beer Can in a Truck Bed" pretty much sums up the sort of neo-funky tune, which may be one slight step ahead of bro-country and filled with silly lyrics ("Hey babe, I just wanna roll around with you / Like a beer can in a truck bed"). "Said Nobody" and the syncopated "CrazyBeautifulSexy," which name checks Def Leppard, also mine funk/soul light territory with lines like "Wanna be one of those late night things that keeps you up/Wanna be the digits that you dial when you get drunk."

This is not be music for the ages, but Old Dominion lives up to at least part of the album title. These songs don't have a lot of depth and meat to them. Ear candy? Most definitely.