Jake Owen's first single from his upcoming album has impacted radio in the recent days and weeks. "Days of Gold" is a new sound from Jake, who has put out some of my favorite mainstream country in his short career. Stepping out of your comfort zone as an artist can be hit or miss, and Jake found a little bit of both with this release.
The very first thing you will notice about this song is the loudness. There is a LOT going on here. Banjo, harmonica, screaming guitars, bass, and drums all cranked up to 11. The sound puts me in mind of something Eric Church would do. The use of harmonica is a nice touch, and the big sound can be fun, but I think Jake overdoes it here. Eric's songs usually have very meaningful or creative lyrics to go with the big sound. This is just another summer song about beer and hot dogs. Lyrically, this song drops the ball big time, and in country music, lyrics are what its all about. No story, no progression, just a list of what is great about summer. Kenny Chesney has done that about 5,748,983 times already. Nothing new to see here.
"Days of Gold" has a rapid fire approach, with fast lyrics and even faster music. This rowdy romp is a lot of fun through the rollicking verses, where the melody is fun and easy to get into. Unfortunately, the chorus is choppy and seems forced. Some will disagree, but I feel the chorus just doesn't fit with this song. It slows down the pace and ruins the flow of the song. The verses, however, are a ton of fun. The blazing harmonica and fast pace puts me in mind of a "Ain't Goin' Down (Til The Sun Comes Up)" on steroids. The third verse is even better. Jake strips a lot of the big sound away, leaving some banjo, a harmonica, and his voice, which is distorted to sound like an old timey, low quality record. THAT verse is great. A whole song of that would be huge.With better lyrics, less noise, and an adjusted chorus, this song could be a timeless hit. Instead, I'm afraid its faults will hold it back. I'm sure it will be a big hit for Jake and sell a lot of records, but it isn't a game changer or really memorable song.
I feel the need to stress that while I am not crazy about this song, I like Jake Owen a lot. He has put out some great tunes in his career. His singles are usually better than a lot of whats on radio, and his album cuts are typically stronger than his singles. Furthermore, he is the epitome of how to treat fans. He is very responsive on Twitter, doing everything from acoustic requests of old country hits to giving away tickets to nearly every show he does. The guy just gets it. This song isn't his best work, but I'm still excited to hear his new album, and still consider myself a Jake Owen fan.