Gone West's debut full-length asks the commercial question: Is there room on mainstream country radio for another mixed vocal group, like Little Big Town or Lady A? As with these two established commercial juggernauts, the pop/country Gone West leans decidedly closer to the pop end of that bi-genre spectrum. Also, akin to its forebearers, Gone West plays to its greatest strength most of the time, which is tight group harmony vocals.
Pop-folk singer Colbie Caillat is Gone West's biggest name, having already released a string of successful solo albums since 2007. However, Justin Young has been at it much longer, releasing his debut album in 1995. Jason Reeves also has a long list of solo projects under his belt, whereas Nelly Joy (the quartet's other female) was once one half of the country duo JaneDear Girls. What these vets bring to the table is established vocal and songwriting credentials. The fact that this album sounds so well sung, from start to finish, comes as no great surprise. One is left wishing, though, there would have been far more memorable songs.
"What Could've Been" is a solid tearjerker, but these four singers just can't stimulate tear ducts the way Lady A's Hillary Scott can. Gone West may make you frown a bit, whereas Scott's able to make even the most dispassionate listener tear-up. Another heartbreaker is "Home Is Where The Heartbreak Is" both hurts and lives up to its great title. However, the act is much better still on "Gone West," a thumping, statement of purpose highlighted by plenty of acoustic country music instrumentation.
No doubt, Gone West is good. With that said, though, just know there is better music from its ilk already out there.