American Love (RCA Nashville, 2016)
Reviewed by Jeff Lincoln
The extra effort put into this breakthrough album pays off nicely. The radio is featuring "American Country Love Song," loaded with those modern sing/spoken vocals and chunky power chords. But the subject matter is almost wistful, how we're all looking for our little patch of love in a great big country. There's a similar spirit about what connects us in the best track, "Everybody Dies Young." It has groove, heart, and truth cranked up to 11. Ace songwriter Lori McKenna helps out on the piano ballad "When You Love Someone," helping Owen exorcise a few demons. That leaves him free to do what he does best - celebrating late nights ("After Midnight") and rowdy road trips ("VW Van"). What sets these songs apart is musicianship - the opener, "American Love," for example may not need beat boxing, horns and steel guitar. But it's all the better for it.
Not every track keeps up with the high water marks: "Where I Am" rewords every sentiment from Luke Bryan's "Crash My Party." "You Ain't Going Nowhere" does just that. But this is some of the best work out of the bro country camp to date. Owen is in the wake of some personal struggles, but, as some know, in real life he's a great wakeboarder. Hop in the van and make the trip.
CDs by Jake Owen
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