Cole Swindell - Stereotype
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Stereotype (Warner, 2022)

Cole Swindell

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

Already successful as both a songwriter and a headlining performer, Cole Swindell's showcases both sides of that equation. The album includes seven co-writes of his own among the 13 tracks and some solid vocal turns on the hits that continue to prove that he is more than just a hit songwriter.

"Never Say Never, a duet with Lainey Wilson, is the powerful centerpiece. The song is arranged so the two singers' lines snake around each other as a bona fide 80's power ballad unfurls underneath them that should have been a comeback hit for Aerosmith. Instead, it's now a career-making turn for Wilson, and Swindell matches her note for note.

<"Every Beer" tips the stereotypical drinking song over and spills out some life advice instead. "Had Me At Heads Carolina" repeats the popular trope of namechecking a well-known classic hit, this time the '90s Jo Dee Messina single "Heads Carolina, Tails California," in a song that's not quite as catchy or memorable as the one it references.

It is the quieter songs that save this album from being pegged with its titular status, as "I'm Gonna Let Her" hits an understated emotional bullseye, and "Some Habits" evokes the kind of self-examination we all need a little more of in our lives.

Swindell is maturing into the kind of artist who knows the real stuff is the well-written, phrase-turning classic style of songs such as the closer, "Walk On Whiskey," a Randy Montana song he makes his own with a soaring vocal and heartfelt delivery. There are the necessary stadium anthems, such as "Down at the Bar" and the aptly stereotypical title track, but they are the exception here, not the rule.

CDs by Cole Swindell

Stereotype, 2022 All of It, 2018 Down Home Sessions EP, 2017 Down Home Sessions III, 2016 You Should Be Here, 2016 Cole Swindell, 2014

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