- Best Country Duo/Group Performance for "21 Summer"
I developed a mild obsession with "Stay A Little Longer" last year (seriously - already planning on it being the end of night song at my wedding reception). Then, I discovered the demo version, which was even better. They followed that up with "21 Summer," which just feels amazing. So, to say that I'm looking forward to hearing the whole album is an understatement.
Maryland natives T.J. and John have been at this since high school together, and have had a really nice steady rise through the ranks of country music. This is their debut album, even after a few other song releases over the past few years, but let's hope this is great and there's more to come.
We start off with some hard picking and "Dirt Rich." T.J.'s voice is lower then you get tho hear in country these days, and carries things in a rough and cool kid of way. There's so many people ou tthere who complain country's gotten too poppy, or that they hate how twangy the old-school stuff is - well, here's your happy middle ground. They contrinue that straight into "21 Summer" is that reminiscent summer track that we all can appreciate from some time in our lives. It's a steady track with memories strewn throughout, and it almost feels like you can hear the sweet summer wind on the beat. And god, how does you're heart not break with the lyric "you're the only broken heart I had and would love to have again"??
"Stay A Little Longer" calls that summer love - and any love - right back. From the opening line so gracefully sung through the incredible guitar solo work done in the last minute or two, this song is just wonderful. It's like you can't give up the love, the song, the feeling - any of it. One more time is, indeed, not enough.
We do have to move on, and things get a little grittier with the title track "Pawn Shop." This is downright funky as far as country music goes, with such great string work. The production style is really interesting too, with some echo work off the mics. It lightens with "Rum" (also, this was an early-on single) though, yet the beat's still there. This one come across muc hmore as an old saloon sound, close to a demo version. Really stark contrast, but a nice breath in the middle.
Lee Ann Womack joins the boys for "Loving Me Back," a smokey back-room song, deep and slow. And god I love a good country song that compares drinkin' to lovin', no matter how sad.
And in a completely different direction, we get "American Crazy." You know those sweet all-American songs that make you feel great about being a down-home kid? Yeah, this is like an honest look into that. it points out our faults and accepts that. They flip that right into "Greener Pastures," a song that cusses and mentions drinking and smoking pot. Ladies and gents, this is not your old clean-cut country group.
"Down Home" seems to answer all of this, with a gospel backing and the quick-witted and quick-talking TJ not taking a break. Country tends to talk about being country, especially because it's why a lot of people listen. This is answering that call. If that one was about the hometown, "Heart Shaped Locket" is about the girl from there. Kind of love the steady nature on this one, not to mention the boy being amazed at love. Silly boy.
We end it all with a Chris Stapleton-esq song in "It Ain't My Fault." (Great timing, right?) Damn this is a good way to close it all out. The sound is intense but still rocking enough to be enjoyable. It's got that party sound we need with the sing along-ability that we want.
- "21 Summer"
- "Stay A Little Longer"
- "Loving Me Back"
- "Greener Pastures"
- "Heart Shaped Locket"
I've listened to this album before, but never this intently (which is usually the case if I haven't reviewed something yet. Worth the wait, absolutely. I have no idea where there next single is coming from (maybe "Heart Shaped Locket"?) but this was worth listening to in its entirely. These guys are a great new duo in the country scene, and we're lucky to have them around.