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Jon Pardi

California Sunrise – 2016 (Capitol)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Jon Pardi

Jon Pardi apparently isn't worried about chasing something new. He makes that clear on the opening "Out of Style" where he sings "The common way we work and play/Are still alive and well today/Don't' need to find a new way to say/We don't get out of style." He may not have penned the song, but Pardi continues mining a more traditional sound on his recordings (his live shows tend to rock far too much as if he's trying to figure just who he is musically). The tick-tock, acoustic start to the honky tonk ballad "She Ain't In It" sets the stage for Pardi to pour his heart out replete with pedal steel from Mike Johnson.

Fiddle comes through on "Cowboy Hat," not an instrument in abundance these days. Neither is his preferred headgear, which now seems to connect with more traditional sounds unlike the poseur days of yesteryear.

And he's into cowboy boots as evidenced by the hit single "Head Over Boots" and "Dirt on My Boots." Here as on "Paycheck," Pardi extols the life o the common working man, who needs to let off steam and head to the honky tonks.

While Pardi may adopt the persona of the working man on "Night Shift," he also rocks with screaming electric guitars, more so as the dozen song release unfolds. Pardi still straddles the line between rock and country. The harder-edged country was far more engaging and sits well with Pardi's delivery with his California drawl and extending notes.

Maybe from Pardi's perch on the music scene, what was old may be new again. Maybe, just maybe, Pardi and his hat are indeed "something new" these days. And while being called a hat act was a pejorative once upon a time, Pardi and his ilk ought to proudly wear that moniker - as long as he remembers what the hat once stood for.