Album Review: Easton Corbin – Easton Corbin

Karlie Justus Marlowe | February 19th, 2010

easton-corbinAt the end of 2009, I offered up an argument that traditional country music would make a mainstream comeback in 2010, on the heels of artists such as Jamey Johnson, Chris Young and Ashton Shepherd.

Today, I produce Easton Corbin’s self-titled debut from Mercury Nashville as Exhibit A of this turning tide.

Despite sometimes sharing the been there, done that liability of its lead-off single (and Top 10 hit) “A Little More Country Than That,” Easton Corbin successfully stands miles apart from current radio fare with nary an electric guitar riff, rock and roll drums solo or cacophonous chorus.

More importantly, however, its neo-traditionalist production choices–combined with the singer’s near-perfect blend of the vocalists who made that movement popular–sound modern, fresh and mainstream-friendly.

The album’s easy, natural feel is due in no small part to producer–and former steel guitarist and bandleader for Keith Whitley–Carson Chamberlain, who deserves credit for packing the most steel on a mainstream album release since Jamey Johnson’s That Lonesome Song, albeit to a much different result. While Johnson capitalized on the instrument’s mournful undertones, Corbin uses it to champion his exuberant grasp on country music.

That excitement is the basis of songs such as the jaunty, vintage Alan Jackson “The Way Love Looks,” and travel tune “This Far From Memphis,” which scores the record’s best line “Now I’ve run out of road/So I guess my only hope is to trade this truck for a boat.”

But even when Corbin is down and out on heartbreak songs like the album’s best tune “Leavin’ a Lonely Town,” he is able to instantly inject listeners into the who, what, when and where of heartbreak: “Mama’s standing at the old screen door, with a dishrag in her hand/Crying like I never seen her cry before…/My old man is working on his truck/Ain’t never had much to say/Just shakes my hand and wishes me luck and watches me walk away/Yeah, I’m leavin’ a lonely town.”

Despite these strengths, at times Easton Corbin is an example of the sum being greater than the parts. Kenny Chesney cheese-fest “A Lot to Learn About Livin’” and semi-saccharine “Someday When I’m Old” would simply wither sans Corbin’s natural charm, while “That’ll Make You Wanna Drink” will simply, well, make you want to drink.

While these songs don’t reach the level of detail, emotion and connection as most on the album, the strong thread of charismatic artistry that runs from Track 1 to Track 11 largely neutralizes its dead weight.

Corbin, who owns four co-writes in the collection, will struggle to overcome the label of “the guy that sounds just like Strait.” However, in terms of self-identification, he’s off to a good start: Despite the bravado suggested by the Florida native’s lead-off single, this album never tries too hard to be anything it’s not, and why should it–Easton Corbin is a debut effort by an artist with incredible promise to be a potential game changer in the country music genre.

4 Stars

2 Pings

  1. [...] The 9513 wrote of a potential 2011 revival of traditional country on the radio airwaves, and if they’re right, true country fans have a ton to rejoice about when listening to Easton Corbin, which is the best traditional meets modern country album I’ve heard since Eric Church’s Carolina. “I’m A Little More Country Than That” is one of the most straightforward, honest country top tens I’ve heard in years, and it sounds like the new traditional country I grew up on in the eighties and early nineties, when artists like George Strait, Keith Whitley and Steve Earle were tearing up country radio. Several cuts on this effort even sound like Corbin spent time in the room with Earle while he put together Guitar Town, the best album to come out of that era. Listen to “Leavin’ A Lonely Town” or “This Far From Memphis” and tell me you disagree. [...]
  2. [...] The 9513 wrote of a potential 2011 revival of traditional country on the radio airwaves, and if they’re right, true country fans have a ton to rejoice about when listening to Easton Corbin, which is the best traditional meets modern country album I’ve heard since Eric Church’s Carolina. “I’m A Little More Country Than That” is one of the most straightforward, honest country top tens I’ve heard in years, and it sounds like the new traditional country I grew up on in the eighties and early nineties, when artists like George Strait, Keith Whitley and Steve Earle were tearing up country radio. Several cuts on this effort even sound like Corbin spent time in the room with Earle while he put together Guitar Town, the best album to come out of that era. Listen to “Leavin’ A Lonely Town” or “This Far From Memphis” and tell me you disagree. [...]
  1. Paul W Dennis
    February 19, 2010 at 6:36 am

    I really like this album. Some of the songs could be stronger but it’s a good start for an artist from whom I hope to hear a lot more

  2. waynoe
    February 19, 2010 at 8:55 am

    I would like to describe Corbin’s vocal style. It is George Strait with a ting of Joe Nichols. And it sounds dang good.

  3. sam (sam)
    February 19, 2010 at 10:27 am

    I do like Corbin’s voice, but I really hope neo-traditional country doesnt make a comeback in mainstream music this year. I used to be a fan of more traditional stuff in the 1990s but now I think the pop-try acts are producing the more compelling music. And I grew bored with the neo-traditionalist stuff so unless Corbin offers something quite different I’m probably not interested. I’d prefer more pop in my country. Others feel differently and that’s fine by me.

    I do hope Corbin does well. Just based on his first single I think he seems to have a lot of potential.

  4. Pierce
    February 19, 2010 at 10:32 am

    I really love the sound and the voice, but wasn’t a fan of the songs. They just weren’t A-quality material, in my opinion.

  5. Occasional Hope
    February 19, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    I’m looking forward to hearing this.

  6. Noeller
    February 19, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Am a huge fan of the album, and contrary to most, I dig the lead single. Rather than being false bravado, like Aldean, this is a kid who means it and backs it up. He really is a hell of a lot countrier than them…

  7. crazybaby
    February 19, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Very much longing for a copy of my own to hear. I can listen to “I Can’t Love You Back” all day long.

  8. Benny
    February 19, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Nice review, want to hear that album now since I quite like the current single and his voice – love the old-fashioned/retro cover art as well!

  9. Kim
    February 19, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    Does it seem like his name should be the other way around? Corbin Easton instead of Easton Corbin?

  10. Billy
    February 19, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    I really like this guy’s voice. I’d like him an George to record a duet just to see if the public could tell which voice was which.

    I’ll be sure to stream this album sometime in the near future.

  11. Vicki
    February 20, 2010 at 8:49 am

    He’s on my list to buy once my credit card gets to the next statement.

  12. Thomas
    February 20, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    …probably one of those debut-albums that one shouldn’t miss if one likes it more traditional in a mainstream kind of way.

    i think so too, karlie, there are again a few very talented people around, who are not afraid of steel guitars. then again, i doubt it, whether we’ll see a turning of the tide. mainstream country doesn’t sound too bad overall, if you leave out the clone-stuff, all of the more desperate tries nashville is undertaking and enjoy prominent lead guitars. above all, it’s finding a new, younger batch of listeners and fans.

    still, the fact remains that young’s black dress song was probably last year’s most widely liked mainstream country song and corbins “a little more country…” is right on track to be among this year’s favourites.

    good to hear that things are moving again in that direction. by the way, real country surely is back when dwight yoakam is played regularly on the radio, again. how likely is that?

  13. Stewman
    February 22, 2010 at 11:41 am

    I think Mr. Chamberlain did a swell job with the tone of the record, because on youtube clips i cant help but hear a good amount of Craig Morgan in his voice. Maybe its a lack of stage time, that will dissipate once he gets on a few tours.

  14. Wade
    February 24, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    I am a huge fan of Easton and will be getting this asap! He is really awesome, and actually country! Also he grew up an hour away from me, so ive been hearing him for awhile now.

  15. richard
    February 24, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    I will definately be getting this because I love country music and POP country sucks in my opinion. I hope real country comes back soon.

  16. Tyler
    March 8, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    This is the kind of music that should be played on country radio stations.

  17. ZAK
    April 27, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    great album great country music…what a breath of fresh air amidst all this cheesy 80’s rock being promoted as country these days.

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