Chris Lane - Girl Problems
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Girl Problems (Big Loud, 2016)

Chris Lane

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Chris Lane sounds like he's been addicted to The Voice or at least Adam Levine because his vocals and sometimes his sonics bear a resemblance along with Panic! at the Disco's "Brendon Urie. The leadoff song and country hit "Fix" has the focal dynamics often displayed by Levine with a falsetto, something he resorts to often. Lane also milks the chugging big beats with his breathiness. "Let Me Love You," a cover of R&B artist Mario's 2004 hit, is dotted with banjo underneath from start to finish, but the song closes with a flourish of keyboards. "All the Time" is pure dance music with pounding drums and a pulse heavy beat.

The North Carolina native, gets downright poppy on "Who's It Gonna Be." It's a bit of a funky song with layered vocals, the kind of song that could induce head bobbing, but like much of the material doesn't cut very deep.

And that's the problem. Producer Joey Moi, who has done wonders for Florida Georgia Line and Jake Owen (he also produced the often maligned Nickelback), offers nothing particularly inventive or exciting in music or song selection. If so forced, this borders on pop country. "Back to Me" is pure, middle of the road ballad about guy loses girl and hopes for her return ("So go on and run, see what there is to see/But I hope when you're done, you'll run, you'll run straight back to me"). Not exactly virgin territory.

"Circles," with help from Canadian singer Mackenzie Porter, is the best song of the dozen here. That's clear from the first notes where acoustic car dominates, and the vocal delivery is soft and pensive (yes, the falsetto is thrown in yet again) in material so sonically different. As for the subject matter, it's of being "so mad about you/ I can't live without you" variety.

Lane follows with the big sounding "Saturday Night," sounding straight out of the Florida Georgia Line playbook. Lane never carves out his own identity or forges a game plan unless relying heavily on what else has been there before counts.

CDs by Chris Lane

Girl Problems, 2016

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