Tuesday, March 11, 2014

New Tunes Tuesday - Eli Young Band

Hey, I'm on a roll!  Three music posts in three weeks! But there has been some great music released lately, and here's another one... 10,000 Towns by Eli Young Band.

The album title is not only the title to one of the songs, but also encompasses all of the places they have been while touring and putting on shows. I noticed a "on the road" kind of theme throughout the album. If they're not singing about the actual road, they're traveling down memory lane. I've always enjoyed their sound too. They do a great job of meshing rock with country and continue to do so on this album.

I love "Drunk Last Night" which was their lead single. The arrangement is modern without being too overdone. And who hasn't regretted doing some secret spilling after having one too many? That's a memory lane you might want to avoid.  "Dust" continues the road theme with a very catchy melody. The girl in the song could have been me back in the day speeding out of her small town and leaving it all behind. "Turn the radio up / Roll the windows down / She's got an open road / Nothing's stopping her now." It's their newest single, and I think it should do well on the radio.

Two memory lane tracks happen to be my favorites. "What Does" is a painful break-up song wondering what in the world went wrong. "I never thought we'd be one more tragedy / you and me / we're supposed to beat the odds... You hold on through thick and through thin / and when that kind of love doesn't win / what does?" And "A Lot Like Love" is a wistful look back at a lost love. Sometimes you don't realize what you have until it's gone. "Of all the memories good and bad / still find myself looking for what we had."

There are a few skip over tracks in my opinion simply because they feel geared toward a younger crowd. Advice is given to guys to "Just Add Moonlight" if you want a girl to fall in love with you. And "Let's Do Something Tonight" as long as it's worth talking about in the morning. They definitely had a particular audience in mind with these songs.

The final track is different from the other tracks and a favorite of mine. The harmonized "oooo-oooo" at the start hooked me in. "Prayer for the Road" is sung with feeling and emotion. And it was the perfect ending song to the road theme they had throughout the album.

Overall it's a fine album with a few bright spots, but they play it a little too safe for me.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

New Tunes Tuesday - Dierks Bentley

Dierks Bentley has had an emotional year. During the recording of Riser, he lost his father and welcomed a son into his life. But music can provide fantastic therapy. The result is an authentic album that really comes from the heart.

The album kicks off with the moody "Bourbon in Kentucky." It never really took off on the radio. Not sure why because I thought the harmony with Kacey Musgraves was perfection. It's in these deeply heartfelt songs where he really shines. The connection is palpable on "Here On Earth" where he deals with loss and the confusion that follows. "There's not a stone in my heart I've left unturned / Not a piece of my soul that I ain't searched / The only answer that I found for all this hurt / Is there ain't no answer here on Earth." The title song "Riser" however states that he can rise above the hurt and sadness in his life. And "I Hold On" has him looking forward to the future yet still holds on to the memories.

There are a few bumps on the album, but they aren't terrible. "Pretty Girls" drinking tall boys, "Sounds of Summer" going down in a nowhere town, and chillin' on a "Back Porch" are all pretty interchangeable. The sad back story of "Drunk on a Plane" takes this song one step higher than the other three. He's leaving for the honeymoon alone because he was left at the alter. "On my way home I'll bump this seat right up to first class / So I can drink that cheap champagne out of a real glass / And when we land I'll call her up and tell her 'Kiss my ass' / Cause hey, I'm drunk on a plane"

"Say You Do" and "Five" are songs about lost love. He's hoping that even if you're not thinking of me, maybe you could just lie and say you do. I really like "Five". The lyrics are great and the guitar crescendo at the end just brings it home. "And this might sound crazy but maybe / You're thinkin' 'bout me tonight / 'Cause I'm thinkin' 'bout you tonight / Somethin' 'bout the taste of a first love, first touch / That don't ever seem to fade / Now you're 600 miles away / And a ten hour drive / But if you called me tonight, I can make it in five."

The real shining moment on the album is the acoustic "Damn These Dreams." He sings of the struggles between chasing his dreams and leaving his family. It's a real life story told in a song. We all have to make tough decisions in our lives. Do you listen to your head or your heart? Another favorite is "Hurt Somebody" for its fantastic arrangement. He knows the girl is going to hurt someone (with her red lipstick gun), but he's really hoping it's him.

Overall this is a solid country music album. It's everything I would expect from Dierks Bentley and more. The sorrow he felt over his father's death has seeped into these songs and made it authentic and raw. It has strong country roots with a mainstream flare. Enjoy.

Grade: B


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