Jon Wolfe is a country artist from Oklahoma who is starting to garner some attention with the release of his latest album Natural Man. Jon comes on high recommendation from Aaron Watson, and has been making noise on the Texas charts as well. While a lot of artists have been going back to a more traditional sound, Jon Wolfe has found a way to take the best of the mainstream world and the traditional world to create a very enjoyable listening experience.
Natural Man is a throwback of sorts, but not to the olden days of country, or even the 90’s sound that has been making a comeback. No, this is a throwback to the early 2000’s. Back when guys like Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Chris Cagle, Trace Adkins, and George Strait dominated the radio. This was the time when you could still hear a fiddle or steel guitar in a song, but the guitars and drums were getting louder and louder. We all complained at the time, but looking back now, I’d kill for that sound again. It has mass appeal, but it still stands out as country music. That’s where Jon Wolfe lies. Most of Natural Man is right up this alley. The guitars are loud and the drums hit hard, but the steel guitar pierces through the mix on every song. There isn’t a whole lot of acoustic sounds on this album, spare the great wrap-up song, “When I Get To Heaven”. If you are looking for an album to just jam to, this is your album. If you want something that is more old-fashioned, this might be a little loud for you taste.
The same things that make this album good are the same things that keep it from being great. On one hand, the loud-meets-traditional sound is perfect for recent trends in radio and can be great music to jam to. On the other hand, the lack of really old-school traditional country will keep it from some fans ears. The songs are all decently written, with no eye-rollingly terrible songs in the bunch. On the other hand, they are all decently written, with no jaw-dropping, life-changing songs in the bunch. “Outrun Her Memory”, “Singin’ Thing”, “When I Get To Heaven”, and “Married To Nothin’” are all very good songs. “Smile On Mine”, also recorded by Joe Nichols, is an innocent, yet forgettable radio song. The problem is simply that while these are all good songs, there isn’t that one moment that makes Jon really stand out. I bought this album and I enjoy listening to it. I just wish it had that one killer song that proves you are a cut above the rest.
All being that being said, this is a fine album. Jon Wolfe is a vocal clone of George Strait, which gets any country fan excited. His sound is country, but it is loud and fun. This is a good album for a nice cruise on a summer day. Jon Wolfe is setting a solid foundation for a career in country music. If he can get his hands on that one great song, he will probably blow up. Until then, Natural Man is a fun little record that is hard not to like. Pick it up for a nice meet-in-the-middle moment of traditional country and modern mainstream country.
Standout Tracks: "Outrun Her Memory", "Singin' Thing", "When I Get To Heaven", "Married To Nothin'"
"It Just Feels Right"