Album Review: Jake Owen – Easy Does It
Jake Owen burst on to the scene, in 2006, as a founding member of the frat boy movement of new male country artists, alongside fellow pledges Eric Church, Jason Michael Carroll, and Luke Bryan. With perfectly groomed hair and just enough stubble to prove their manliness, these guys provide bar-friendly music with a tinge of radio sentimentalism–a fact which makes Owen’s sophomore album, Easy Does It, anything but unexpected.
Easy Does It perfectly follows the typical formula, with a healthy dose of fist-pumping, beer-raising anthems and female-flocking contemporary country slow jams. The concept of the album and the themes of the songs are mostly recycled, which makes for another average collection of tunes.
The most disappointing part of the album stems from the potential that Owen displays on the opening track, “Tell Me.” Here, he bucks the stale trends that define the bulk of the album and really shines on what is an almost alt-sounding track.
Unfortunately, Owen fails to rise to the bar he sets with “Tell Me.” Aside from the inexplicable re-cut of the overly loud “Eight Second Ride,” there’s little here that could be considered downright awful, but neither is there anything particularly outstanding. Take for instance, the nonchalant “Who Said Whiskey.” Somewhat clever and relatively fun, it simply isn’t very memorable. “Green Bananas” isn’t bad either, but on the whole Owen’s philosophical outlook isn’t especially substantial.
But deep-rooted philosophical musings are not necessarily what Owen’s audience craves, and Easy Does It makes it clear that the singer has a solid grasp on his fan base–and there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, one of the most influential business books of the last decade, Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail, details how (in theory) the music business is changing from a hit-driven market to a niche-driven market. As a mainstream country artist with several top 15 singles under his belt, Owen may not seem like a niche artist, but the sameness that pervades Easy Does It implies that he’s targeting a specific group of fans who embrace a relatively predictable artistic spectrum.
A solid vocalist, good songwriter and all-around decent artist, Owen is likely to be hitting up the bar and county fair circuit this summer while promoting yet another mid-level hit—most likely the radio-friendly, “Every Reason I Go Back.” Unfortunately, “solid,” “good,” and “decent” are much more fitting descriptions for Owen’s music than “interesting,” “innovative,” and “refreshing.”
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