CJ Solar - Coming My Way
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Coming My Way (Sony Music Nashville, 2020)

CJ Solar

Reviewed by Jeff Lincoln

CJ Solar majored in songwriting at Nashville's Belmont University, which led to a plum internship at (Brad Paisley's co-founded) publishing house. Half the trick of life is getting in the door - so when the company asked Solar if he had any songs, his demo tape was ready. He continued to move up the company ladder from a house songwriter to a solo artist.

A casual listener might recognize "Tall Boy" or "Airplane" from the 2016-17 era - if not, it's a much better bet they know Morgan Wallen's number one "Up Down", which Solar co-penned. That song is a good read on Solar's love for rowdy ways and turned-up guitars. This EP, however, doesn't quite pair up to those ideals. The closest is the title track, a solid bro-country romper celebrating the pregame to a party weekend. If it sounds like "Up Down" Part Two, that's got to be by design.The best written song of the set is "Better Memory" - it's got an unsurprising structure with hushed verses into a big pop chorus. But the lyric is charming about how he'll always have one up on the guy who won the girl.

Solar's voice has a nice, steady Southern Rock tone with a hint of twang - he was, after all, born on the Bayou. The challenge here is he's got little time (19 minutes) and a lot of "regular" romantic fare - an ode to a sexy encounter ("Rain") and a lament to a lost affair ("Watered Down Whiskey"). We know he likes it when the lady stays and doesn't when they leave. But we don't learn much about who Solar is or wants to be. He also doesn't sing with a lot of emotional heft. Too much stays hidden, so it's hard to picture an arena really connecting to what's here. He's got some fundamentals in place. But Solar may want to try going bigger, sharing more on a full-sized record.

CDs by CJ Solar

Coming My Way, 2020

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