In his native country Canada, Gord Bamford is one of the most popular country artists around. But like his fellow Canuck country stars George Canyon and Dean Brody, he has yet to break through south of the border. The country star from the prairies of Alberta has his eye set on spreading his wings on his fifth release, "Is it Friday Yet?"
The album kicks off with an upbeat song perfectly suited for two stepping at the local rodeo dance, Must Be a Woman. Right off the bat, Bamford's twang and musical accompaniment align his sound with superstars from the '90s. This song wouldn't sound out of place on the radio between Tracy Lawrence and George Strait. The next song (Disappearing Tail Lights) brings Strait to mind again, with its steel guitar and lyrics that suggest he spent a lot of time listening to Baby's Gotten Good at Goodbye. Fans of Jason Aldean's Joe Diffie tribute 1994 may enjoy the humorous Farm Girl Strong, which sounds a whole lot like Diffie in his heyday.
Slow tracks like Leaning on a Lonesome Song are balanced by fun, upbeat songs like the title track, an ode to the end of a work week. There's an obligatory song about being country, I Call it Country which is cheesy and unnecessary, yet likely to appeal to fans of Justin Moore. Bamford stretches his vocals in an attempt to emulate Ronnie Dunn in She Makes Me Look Good. The Dobro has been making a comeback in country music recently (Jake Owen's Barefoot Blue Jean Night anyone?), and it is used well in Now That You're Gone, a slow sad ballad anchored by the mournful sounds of the instrument.
There shouldn't be any confusion created by comparing Bamford to country stars of the '90s. He isn't merely a third rate tribute hat act. These songs channel all of the things that made those artists great. There is a reason that George Strait has the track record that he does, regardless of what the current trends are. He sings great songs and he does it well. It may not have any hip hop songs or Autotune, but it doesn't attempt to be anything other than what it is country music. It may be stretching it to say that Gord Bamford is the Canadian equivalent of George Strait, but remember that even the King of Country didn't reach his full potential until his eighth release, "Ocean Front Property."