Thursday, July 21, 2011

Album Review: Colt Ford - Every Chance I Get

Colt Ford is one of those artists that causes a division among fans of country music.  Fans of the more historical side of the genre say that rap has no place in country music.  Others, like myself, will say that country music is not about the instruments and the style in which it is played, but the words, and the feeling behind them is what makes it "country".  This division is evident when you compare the two albums the Georgia Boy has released prior to "Every Chance I Get", released a couple months ago in early May.  Those who praised his debut album, "Ride Through The Country", downed "Chicken and Biscuits" (Colt's sophomore release) as being too much singing and not enough of the rap that made his music unique.

One thing is for certain, Colt Ford is a rising star in the genre, whether you call it country, rap, or some mix.  He is currently celebrating having penned a number one song, Dirt Road Anthem, which he and buddy Brantley Gilbert penned and recorded, before allowing Jason Aldean to take it, make it his own, and take it to the top of the charts.  Colt also has no problems making friends with fellow country artists, both established and rising stars.  Previous albums have included collaborations with John Michael Montgomery, Jamey Johnson, Darryl Worley, Randy Houser, DMC, Kevin Fowler, Joe Nichols, Rhett Akins, Josh Gracin and more.  "Every Chance I Get" is no exception, with all but the title track featuring a special guest, and I believe that Colt has found the perfect blend of country and rap to satisfy both fans and critics of the first two albums.

Country Thang - This song features Eric Church, one of the fastest rising names in country music today.  It was also the first single released from the song.  The two artists work together well to paint a picture of a small town, and subsequently, his small town girl, describing it all as being "a country thang" that is "either in your blood or it ain't".  It serves as a great anthem for anyone who has grown up in a rural town, with dirt roads and bird dogs, and definitely sets the mood for what turns out to be a great driving album.

Work It Out - The upbeat pace continues as Luke Bryan lends his voice to the chorus of this song, which expresses every husband or boyfriend's frustrations at how life gets overbearing. Bills are stacked high, the lawn needs "mown", the truck is broken down. There is just not enough time to get everything done, but when it comes down to it, they know that they can "work it out" with their baby by their side, saying "Baby it's true/ all I need is you/ Just unplug the phone/ Let me get you all alone/ and work it out/ why don't we start right now?".

Waste Some Time - Nappy Roots (Southern Rappers from Kentucky) and Nic Cowan (Debut Album coming in August) join Colt on one of my favorite songs of the album.  The group has decided that instead of taking everyone's advice to "Focus on my life/ work a little harder/ do my part/ start living right", they just want to waste some time and kick back and enjoy the world around them.  The rhythm and guitar picking (definitely drawing inspiration from "Sweet Home Alabama") when combined with the lyrics leave one picturing the group cruising down the road in pickup trucks and having fun.  Colt Ford actually takes more of a backseat in this song, really only performing the first verse and letting the others get the spotlight for a bit.  This is recognized later, when one of the rappers thanks both God and Colt: "Got a little wealth so I gotta thank the Lord/ Couldn't do it by myself, got some help from Colt Ford".  Overall, though it slows the pace set by the first two songs a little bit, the song is very catchy and you will find yourself bobbing your head along.

Do It With My Eyes Closed - Josh Thompson ("Beer On The Table", "Way Out Here") is the guest on what I consider to actually be one of the weakest songs on the album.  The song just sounds too much like "Work It Out", talking about how hard life can be, "But loving you's so easy/ I could do it with my eyes closed/ Day and Night/ Night and Day/ Sound asleep/ wide awake/ Loving you is something I know".  It just does not have that hook that the rest of the songs do, and so close after "Work It Out" just does not fit with the rest of the album.

This Is Our Song - Danny Boone of Rehab ("Sittin at a Bar/The Bartender Song") joins Colt in this credo/anthem of the country lifestyle.  Fans who do not enjoy the rap aspect of Ford's music are not going to enjoy this, but may find themselves relating to the statements nonetheless:  "Folks 'round still believe in God/ and the right tote a gun/ and our flag don't run/ ain't askin' you for nothin'/ if we can't get it on our own/ tell the government to leave our check and church alone".  Later, at the end of the chorus, they challenge those who disagree "And if you don't like/ then don't come around".  It is one of the stronger songs on an amazingly strong album.

Titty's Beer - As one can guess from the title, this is easily the funniest song on the album, and Trent Tomlinson ("One Wing In The Fire", "She Just Might Have Her Radio On") joins the 300 pound rapper as he tells the story of his Uncle Titus, who wants to sell his own beer.  Titus realizes that he can make money, not off of taste, but off of the name: "He called it Titty's, Titty's, Titty's Beer/ Just the thing to get you grinnin' ear to ear/ Whether you're from the country or the big ole city/ One thing's for sure, EVERYBODY LOVES TITTY'S!".  I know that about the time of the second line of the chorus, I found myself laughing my head off, and while it is not a "Strong" song, the innuendos of selling it in "Jugs" and having Dolly Parton in the ads, definitely makes it among the best songs.

She Wants To Ride In Trucks - Colt Ford finally slows the album down for what he considers his favorite song of the album, and he has found the perfect guy to join him for a sentimental song for his daughter, Craig Morgan ("Bonfire", "Redneck Yacht Club", "Tough").  The song tells the story of being a father, and the struggles of raising a teenage daughter that he is so close with: "It seems like yesterday we were bringing you home/ I was so scared to hold you/ now I'm scared to let go" sings Colt, and the emotion is evident.  The song continues as Colt sees himself in the boy she brings home, and while the theme is a bit overdone in the country genre, Ford and Morgan do a great job of painting the picture of a father looking out a screen door as she drives off.

Pipe The Sunshine In - Newcomer Tyler Farr and Colt Ford combine on what is actually one of the more forgettable songs on the album.  "Pipe The Sunshine In" has a fun chorus, but like "Trucks" above, the idea of living in the middle of nowhere and making your own moonshine has been overdone.  Unfortunately, there is not much to distinguish this song from any other like it.

Every Chance I Get - The only song on the album without a guest appearance, Colt and his band handle this one on their own.  The song is a improvement of "Pipe", but still is not a standout, talking about growing up and getting out of the party life for a woman:: "And now/ I only do it every chance I get/ It ain't a habit/ I got a handle on it/ It ain't an all day everyday thing/ Unless I think I can./  I used to do it every morning noon and night/ Now I could stop it/ and I ain't lying/ I slowed down so much, you could say I quit/ Cause now I only do it every chance I get".  The guitar in the song is definitely the highlight in an otherwise mediocre song.

What I Call Home - Eventually, every artist does a tribute to his fans, and Colt enlists JB and the Moonshine Band to help him with this one.  Colt goes on a rap about all the places he has visited, hitting pretty much every state on the way, which gets old after a while, however, he truly does sound grateful for the opportunities that the fans have given him over the years, embracing an artist that blurs the lines of country music.

Overworked & Underpaid - The legendary Charlie Daniels joins in on the last of the string of "re-hashed" country songs that make up most of the second half of the album.  This one is a tribute to all of those "Overworked and underpaid/ the one's who make this country great".  Colt dedicates this song to everyone from the Soldiers, Police, and Firemen to the teachers and those who work hard to bring us the music.  The real shame of this song is the lack of showcasing Charlie Daniels' fiddlin' skills. There is a brief solo about the two-minute mark, but not nearly strong to distinguish it from anything that anyone who knows how to play could do.

Skirts & Boots - Up and Coming artist Frankie Ballard ("Tell Me You Get Lonely" and "A Buncha Girls") helps bring the life back to the album, and the party.  This song could easily be a popular bar song, as that is exactly what it is about, the girls who go, and the boys who go to see them.  The song could easily be a sequel to "All About Ya'll" from the previous album, "Chicken and Biscuits".  I see this song being a potential upcoming single for Colt, after "She Likes To Ride In Trucks" is done.

Twisted - This is a song that Colt originally recorded and put on his debut album ("Ride Through The Country"), but this time, he has convinced none other than Tim McGraw to sing the chorus on the track.  When the original album came out, this song did not strike me as that great, but quickly grew to be one of my favorites and still is.  The song does not sound too much different with McGraw than it did with his bandmates, but is still a solid song to end the album with, telling the story of a young adult, faced with the choice of staying in his small town after high school, or going to "chase the bright lights of the California nights" by going to play football for UCLA.  He chooses the latter, but after getting laughed at for ordering sweet tea, he realizes everything that he left and heads home where he belongs.

Overall, Colt Ford has put out a solid album, whose only real flaw is that the second half sounds too indistinguishable from the themes of every other country song out there.  However, Colts unique blend of styles makes the most of it and the album makes great driving music.  This is Ford at his best, doing a solid mix of the country and rap and is sure to have something to please even the staunchest critics.  8/10

Next, I will review Chris Young's newest offering, "Neon"

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