Country Music People December 2018 - Page 32

albumreviews RYE DAVIS A Story To Tell KANE BROWN Experiment   1/2 They All Know My Name / Leave You Lonely / Love You Till Morning / She’d Know/ Lavender Candles / Color On My Collar / Sometimes / Heart To Call A Home / Make It Through The Night / Blue Jeans Producer: Taylor Kropp Self release 35:43 Baby Come Back To Me / Good As You / Lose It / It Ain’t You It’s Me / Short Skirt Weather / Homesick / Weekend / Work / One Night Only / My Where I Come From / American Bad Dream / Live Forever / Lost In The Middle Of Nowhere Producer: Dann Huff RCA Records 42:23 When he appeared on ABC television’s “Rising Star” Rye Davis was told by Brad Paisley “You sound a lot like Alan Jackson” and in places he does; the first few lines of the opener, Heart To Call A Home and She’d Know being prime examples. However, whether that Alan Jackson style will produce the success now that it did for the man himself a few decades ago is open to question. There is a pleasant outlaw feel to a lot of the writing, Davis has opened shows for the likes of Whitey Morgan, Dallas Moore and others, but I felt several tracks had been ‘produced’ for today’s more pop oriented audience. I far preferred the simpler arrangement of Leave You Lonely, the excellent acoustic Blue Jeans and I can visualise Heart To Call A Home doing well on country radio both sides of the Atlantic. Whilst I recognise Alan Jackson had a habit of adding long instrumental play outs to what were basically two and a half minute songs, the rock guitar which turns Make It Through The Night into a six minute indulgence didn’t work for me at all. This is, I believe, a debut release, certainly there are no others mentioned or available to purchase from the website – although there is a choice of eight T-shirts! I would describe this as a work in progress; it isn’t going to set the world on fire but has some notable high points that, with imagination, could develop into really excellent music on a subsequent album. Going back to the acoustic number at the end, it is the song on which he sounds least like Alan Jackson and yet the song works well; so if I were to offer Rye Davis any advice at all it would be to avoid any notion of developing the Jackson comparison. The nod to roots and influences is a noble and rare thing the way new artists are currently marketed, but the younger audience you seek are more likely to be impressed by Rye Davis sounding like himself. Chris Smith 32 cmp - DECEMBER 2018 In case you haven’t already heard, Kane Brown is being heralded in many quarters as the future of country music. Securing a record deal and powerful management following his strong online presence (a la Bieber) Kane Brown has exploded this year. Amid allegations of modern day chart rigging, Brown seems to be proving himself a bonafide star. The fan base is devoted but it does seem a little as though the powers that be are trying to shoehorn some diversity into country music just to make it not look quite so backward. However, what matters is what’s in those grooves and what is there is nowhere near as musically hateful as I imagined it was going to be and is vastly superior to releases we’ve seen this year from Walker Hayes, Morgan Evans, and Keith Urban. Of course it bears little resemblance to a George Strait record, let alone George Jones, but across Experiment there are actually some decent melodies, pleasant grooves, and even some prominent, albeit token, banjo. The single Short Skirt Weather actually sounds way more country than most things on the chart and it could easily have been a massive line dance record in the 90s. Maybe if Billy Ray invents a time machine he’s going to take this one back to 1992. The opening Baby Come Back To Me sounds like a dance mix of a 90s country record and the following Good As You lays down a real nice groove that might not have been out of place on a Neal McCoy track. If either of them came on the radio I’d actually recognise them as something that’s supposed to be a country record. Ironically, Kane Brown’s album seems to have less auto-tune, fewer clichéd production techniques, and dare I say, even be a little more country than many a major label offering. Homesick couldn’t be anything but a country song and the timbre of Brown’s voice suits it perfectly. In complete contrast, Weekend sounds as though it’s waiting for DJ Jazzy Jeff to add “Riding around in your Jeep or your Benzos / Or in your Nissan sitting on Lorenzos” over the top of it. My Where I’ve Come From might even work for Tim McGraw and Live Forever has been deemed good enough to name Kane Brown’s tour after - it’s a nice little ballad. Yes, there are songs that are out and out pop (Lost In The Middle Of Nowhere and One Night Only for example), but going into this album I feared it might all be like that. It turns out that Experiment, rather than being experimental and trying to “widen the boundaries” actually sounds like it wants to be a modern country album for most of it and doesn’t do that bad a job of it either. It might be damning with feint praise but overall Kane Brown’s album is nowhere near as bad as expected. Whether it is the “game- changer” so many are billing it as remains to be seen. In the meantime, there is a lot worse than this out there right now and while I most likely won’t be putting it on repeat I wouldn’t be screaming for mercy as I would with some I previously mentioned. Duncan Warwick