Greetings from...Jake Owen (Big Loud, 2019)
Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh
He's never better than on the single and album opener, "Down to the Honkytonk." It's a 'friends in low places' drinking song, where Owen's voice gets down near Josh Turner basement territory on the choruses. It's a lighthearted song, as are the songs representing about the first half of the album. It's not until Owens gets to "Homemade," written by Bobby Pinson (among others), that Owen gets a little serious.
Later, both "River of Time" and "Made For You" exchange the early electric guitar twang, for more thoughtful, acoustic music. "Made For You" is a simple love song, whereas "River of Time" is a meditation about the general trajectory of life.
Although we could have done without the classic rock pandering of "I Was Jack (You Were Diane)," most of this is a pure pleasure. Yes, there is a goodly share of drinking songs, but it's tough not to bob along to the semi-tropical "Drink All Day." "Mexico In Our Minds" succeeds on a couple of levels: It doesn't over-do the production, the way far too many country songs do, and its lyric - about pretending a Tennessee night is actually a Mexico vacation evening - is delightfully imaginative.
As a vocalist, Owen sometimes sounds like a dead-ringer for Dierks Bentley, a good thing. Of course, Bentley also writes those fine songs he sings so well, which sets him a few rungs above Owen. Like Bentley, though, Owen is consistently a joy to hear sing. "Greetings From...Jake" is not a completely traditional country music album, but Owen's drawly singing and the steel guitar - which particularly colors "Damn" - make this one surprisingly rewarding listening experiences.
If your first impression of Jake Owen was that of a lighthearted beach bum with about much artistic ambition as your typical beach bum, "Greetings From...Jake" might leave a much more positive second impression.
CDs by Jake Owen
©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher • firstname.lastname@example.org
About • Copyright • Newsletter • Our sister publication Standard Time