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Jerrod Niemann

High Noon – 2014 (Sony Nashville)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Jerrod Niemann

Jerrod Niemann's new "High Noon" album is better than the annoying single, "Drink to That All Night," might lead you to believe. Fortunately, the album is not completely a Luke Bryan sound-alike.

Even so, there are moments where Niemann sometimes sounds a little too much like his musical contemporaries. The rap-influenced "Donkey" has a bit of Big & Rich flavor running through it, while the resigned tone in Niemann's voice during "Lucky #7" brings Dierks Bentley immediately to mind. The latter also includes Niemann's best lyrical line with, "I'm no Shakespeare or Kristofferson." (It's true that he's no Kristofferson, but it's also good to hear Kristofferson listed among the greatest all-time writers).

In addition to the rap elements affecting the "Drink to That All Night" and "Donkey," Niemann incorporates Colt Ford, one of the original country rappers, during the surprisingly pleasing, low key "She's Fine," which also effectively mixes in some nice banjo plucking. Ironically, the deceptively titled "We Know How to Rock" is one of the most country songs on the album, as it includes plenty of the aforementioned banjo plus pedal steel.

It's sad state of affairs when a new country album is praised for being better than expected, but the genre has fallen so deeply under the spell of so many outside-country-stylistic-distractions, when real country elements actually appear on a track, it's a pleasant surprise. "High Noon" is not great, but you could certainly do a whole lot worse.