Free the Music by Jerrod Niemann

Fans of Jerrod Niemann’s major-label debut, Judge Jerrod & the Hung Jury, are familiar with the country star’s rather cerebral way of putting together an album. So they’ll likely be prepared for anything and everything. (If you aren’t familiar with Jerrod’s musical philosophy, hold on!)

The uniquely funky opening title track on Jerrod’s latest is basically an introduction to this kaleidoscope of music. Vividly expressive lines such as, Don’t care where you come from or what you wear, it’s what makes you tap your feet or shake your derriere, set the tone for what’s to come. It also tells listeners that if the title track isn’t their cup of tea “skip to the next track.” And on that note, the album launches into what some may brand as the most country song on the album, the beautifully poignant “Whiskey Kind of Way.”

Yes, Jerrod isn’t afraid to take musical risks, as evident in songs such as the theatrical “Honky Tonk Fever” or the vibey “Guessing Games”; however, think wisely before accusing him of discounting his country roots. His respect for and knowledge of traditional country music is vast, and he’s diligent in honoring artists who are sometimes forgotten even by classic country radio stations.

Jerrod’s use of horns and strings throughout the project is reminiscent of Danny Davis and Bob Wills, while the beachy feel and reggae beats of “I’ll Have to Kill the Pain” and “Real Women Drink Beer” are straight from the Bellamy Brothers songbook. Lest you think that Jerrod has buried his thoughtful lyrics and emotive voice in big arrangements and high-tech wizardry, there is the incredibly compelling “Only God Could Love You More,” written with pals Lee Brice and Jon Stone. Enormous in sentiment, but simplistic in delivery, it earns five stars on its own. And his supersexy collaboration with Colbie Caillat, “I’m All About You,” is just . . . wow!

Open your ears, open your mind, press play and Free the Music.

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