Jake Owen contributes to the writing of his album "Greetings From...Jake" on just one song called "Damn." Therefore, the success this project rises or falls with his vocals and song choices. Fortunately, Own has chosen some memorable songs to sing, and his singing voice has never sounded better.
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.