Thursday, 9 January 2014
Album Review: DAYS OF GOLD
Days of Gold is his fifth studio release (including one EP) and the follow-up to Barefoot Blue Jean Night, which includes the number-one hit with the same name. Earlier this week, Owen announced a mega-tour of 55 shows (sadly, only one in Canada) starting in March.
The single Days of Gold should have performed better, as it only peaked at number 19 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart. It's about as catchy and innovative as you can get in today's country. The funky almost-rap sections are backed by a rock-influenced beat rather than a hip-hop one, and Owen squeezes in some gutsy guitar riffs before each verse. And while the hook is the rhythm, he manages to also fit in some great imagery. "Whiskey's in the air/Dogs on the burner/Beer's ice cold/Got a pretty little lady to hold."
There really isn't a weak track to point out, but Owen's forte is definitely lost-love songs. One that stands out is the vulnerable Life of the Party, in which he is too broken to even tell his friends about a recent breakup. The familiar heartbeat-drums are reminiscent of Blake Shelton's God Gave Me You and really set up the sad, ironic payoff line. "I don't want 'em to see I'm dying inside/So I guess I'll be the life of the party."
My very favourite is One Little Kiss (Never Killed Nobody), in which Owen underestimates the emotional danger in an unexpected visit from an ex. "One little kiss never killed nobody...but me." This fast-moving song really is a masterpiece, and I hope he chooses to put it to radio. It's beautiful – just listen to it (HERE). "Thought I'd be fine to see you one more time/Yeah, right."
Owen's current single Beachin' is the perfect expression of his brand: relaxed romance on a sandy ocean shore. "It's 103 between her and me/And only 92 in Daytona." The peppy reggae groove proves just how versatile Owen is as an artist.
Tipsy and Good Timing are also celebrations of lighthearted love. The female background vocals in the mournful What We Ain't Got make me think Dolly Parton, and the piano ballad starkly contrasts Owen's island and pop songs. Overall, I'd say he truly did strike gold with this album. It's easy-listening, but refreshingly different from other material on country radio.
Country Luke's Rating: 8.5/10
Photo courtesy https://www.facebook.com/jakeowen.