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New artists rock on

House of Blues, Boston, December 12, 2013

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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About half-way through his headlining set at the WKLB-sponsored show of four artists who may be up-and-coming - none have released an album yet - Cole Swindell talked about the people who influenced him.

Swindell, who has penned songs for fellow Georgians Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan, went way back to the 1990's saying he had so many reference points for his brand of country music.

With that, Swindell played Tim McGraw's Something Like That and Dierks Bentley's What Was I Thinkin'. He did a decent job of the songs, while also aptly demonstrating he doesn't have the vocal chops of either artist (McGraw has certainly improved over time, so maybe Swindell needs some mud on the tires as well).

First off, Bentley's song didn't come out in the 1990s. More like 2003, and it was from Bentley's first disc.

Second and more to the point of Swindell along with his counterparts on this night - Jon Pardi, Joel Crouse and Leah Turner - they apparently don't have a very deep knowledge base when it comes to country music.

Crouse, a local boy from Holland, Mass., in fact, was the only artist on the bill who even bothered to employ what could be considered the most traditional of country instruments - pedal steel guitar and mandolin (okay, throw fiddle into the mix as well, but nary a one was seen or heard - it seemed like a few of the artists included a tad of taping into their songs - all night).

These artists are most certainly the product of their times. And in these times, it's folks like Aldean and Bryan who are ruling the roost.

The long and rangy Pardi has a lot of stage presence without saying a tremendous amount, and a bunch of good songs. Of the four artists, he probably was the closest to more of a country sound often due to his guitarist's steely picking.

Crouse also displayed good presence and an earnestness about him. Of course, kudos to him for deciding that country does include pedal steel and mandolin.

Turner, a California native had a slightly bluesy tint to her songs but her voice was often buried beneath the guitar playing. Turner set the stage for the rock music that was to come.

Congrats to WKLB radio for putting together an intriguing show of new artists, who are just starting out. Of course, it's cool to see an artist who is developing. Unfortunately, if it was anything on the traditional side you were looking to hear, you were out of luck.