As I mentioned in my "What I Can't Put Down" Single Review, I hadn't really payed much attention to Jon Pardi. I didn't dislike him, but when his album Write You A Song came out in January, I didn't check it out. That was a big mistake on my part. After hearing his cool single "What I Can't Put Down", I got a copy of it, and I am very impressed. Jon Pardi is bringing some of the traditional country elements back to mainstream world, and his first album is a fantastic debut.
The album hits hard right of the bat with "What I Can't Put Down", a fun country rocker that still has some decent lyrics. The first single, "Up All Night", wasn't my favorite when it came out, but it is decent. The same old cliches are there, but the music actually sounds country, so it is still listenable. The title track is where Jon really shines. He lists Dwight Yoakam and the Bakersfield Sound as one of his big influences, and it really shows in this song. It has a driving rhythm and witty, fast-paced lyrics. The fiddle and steel solo gives it that Bakersfield twang that is sorely missing from country radio. Hopefully this one gets the green-light as a single. Jon's fun songs all have two things in common: they are really country and they are well written. "When I've Been Drinkin'" is a laid back heartbreaker that puts me in mind of early Eric Church. He puts a lot of passion and emotion into his singing very similar to Eric. "Missin' You Crazy" has a nice bouncy melody as well and a really catchy chorus with some sweet steel guitar riffs. "Chasin' Them Better Days" and "Happens All The Time" have similar breezy arrangements, but both hold their own as part of the whole album experience.
My favorite song on the album besides "What I Can't Put Down" and "Write You A Song" is "Love You From Here". The fiddle solo to start off just gets you excited from the get-go, and the song gets even better when Jon starts singing. It has heartfelt lyrics, a catchy chorus, and its as country as a buttermilk biscuit. It would have been a huge hit in 1992, but it may not even get released as a single in 2014. It's one of the better mainstream songs to hit an album in awhile, and it'll be a damn shame if more people don't hear it. "Love You From Here" isn't the only tender song on the album. "That Man" is a straightforward country love ballad reminiscent of the 90's. It sounds like a long-lost John Michael Montgomery hit. "Trash A Hotel Room" is a little more spicy, and is a perfect option as a radio single that has appeal to the pop-country world, but still firmly fits with country's roots. "Empty As These Beer Cans" may sound like its going to be a bro-country party anthem by the title, but it actually has a lot more heartache. The lyrics are clever and fits right in with the old honky-tonkers of yesterday. It is a little more rocking than those old tunes, but it still has some steel guitar goodness to bring it back to its roots.
I can't say enough good things about this album. While I love Sturgill Simpson and Jason Eady, the fact is that they are making very traditional albums on small, independent labels. It goes a long way towards bringing country back to its roots, but Jon Pardi can have an equally as big impact with this album. It is a lot more pop-oriented than those guys, but its a LOT more country than 90% of the radio, and it is fresh enough that the songs can still be hits. Jon Pardi can turn a lot of fans on to that 90's country sound that produced some excellent music. This album really reminds me of I'll Stay Me by Luke Bryan, and we all know how Luke turned out, but hopefully Jon Pardi rises as bro-country falls and he becomes a big ole star with songs like these. I'm officially a Pardi animal after hearing Write You A Song. Pick it up kids, and thank you Jon for keeping it country!
Standout Tracks: "What I Can't Put Down", "Write You A Song", "Love You From Here", "That Man", "Empty As These Beer Cans", "When I've Been Drinkin'"
"What I Can't Put Down"
"Up All Night"
"Missin' You Crazy"
"Love You From Here"