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Green River Ordinance

Fifteen – 2016 (Residence)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

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CDs by Green River Ordinance

On Texas band Green River Ordinance's fourth studio effort, the songs are solid, mainstream country music nearly indistinguishable from their chart-topping peers, the transformation from their roots-rocking beginnings now complete.

"Red Fire Night" takes a big chorus style straight out of an Eric Church song and throws in a prominent fiddle/banjo backdrop for something that's as upbeat and folksy-sounding as it is corny and sentimental. "Simple Life" hits some of the same themes while striking a mellower tone and tempo, appropriate for a song about living life "at a slower pace"- call this one their homage to Dierks Bentley, perhaps.

One can't help feel that there's a bit of paint-by-numbers or fill-in-the-blank going on here. It's not as blatant as the bro-country crowd's pickup truck/campfire/tight jeans/beer and bbq tropes, but they name check George Jones and Waylon Jennings (in separate songs), there is at least one campfire song, and two or three other interchangeable songs start with the same near-a capella harmony chorus intro followed by crashing rock drums, perfect setups for those arena sing-alongs.

The only times one feels as if the calculations aren't deliberate are on the gently insistent ballad "You, Me & The Sea," and the jaunty acoustic "Life in the Wind," neither of which wander as dangerously close to current country trends as the rest of the album. Usually when a band goes from a major label deal to indie status, the music also follows a more independent streak; in this case while the instrumentation may be more interesting, the songwriting is not, settling instead for an unsatisfying, generic echo of what's been heard too many times before.