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Chris Janson

Buy Me A Boat – 2015 (Warner)

Reviewed by Dustin Blumhagen

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CDs by Chris Janson

A fast rise to the charts is the oft elusive dream of many young musicians. After years of toiling in the trenches in Nashville, Chris Janson had faced his share of hardships and rejections. He'd worked with an impressive roster of artists (Tim McGraw, Justin Moore, Lee Brice), but failed to score any significant attention as an artist himself. Then he followed his wife's advice and self-released a single, "Buy Me a Boat," which became a surprise radio hit. After years of playing country, Janson finally became an "overnight sensation" and has wasted no time preparing his debut full length.

While the importance of his debut single should not be denied, it is not actually one of the strongest songs. His thick twang drives a radio friendly song about trucks, beer and a boat, a stereotypical bro country track. While Janson affects a blue collar image and vocal twang similar to Justin Moore, he manages to stand on his own. It's all been heard before, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing. The simple familiarity of straightforward songs about faith and love will be reassuring to country fans whose values lean more toward Alan Jackson than Florida Georgia Line.

For a debut, the album showcases Janson's ability to write a good song. Thankfully, the cheesy beats and rhymes of his previous singles ("Cut Me Some Slack") are largely absent here, showing instead a musical maturation fitting of a major label artist (exception being the terrible hip hop mess "Power of Positive Drinkin'"). The easygoing tempo of "Under the Sun" is a laid back tribute to lazy summer days, with well-placed pedal steel adding an appropriate Hawaiian feel. On "Holdin' Her" he writes a heartfelt ode to wife and daughter, showcasing his vocal ability when he soars in the chorus.

At times, it seems that Janson struggles with his identity, torn between chasing fads or focusing on the quality of the song. When he settles in, he can write a great country song, but at times his inexperience at this level shines through.