Take It to the Bank EP by Chris Janson

Before he released his single “Better I Don’t” for Bigger Picture, singer Chris Janson had a contract with Columbia Nashville and recorded a handful of songs, some of which have been assembled for the digital-only Take It to the Bank EP.

Chris’ trademark gritty punch was already well-formed when this was recorded, as evidenced by the loping title track and its bluesy harmonica fills. The “bank” has less to do with money and more to do with the side of a river, where one’s troubles can just fade.

“’Til a Woman Comes Along” and “Back to Me” are both intriguing spins on how relationships change people, cleverly sequenced one after the other to show an entire life cycle of a relationship. The woman comes along, helps a guy clean up his act and stop being such a slob. When she’s gone, he’s got to get back to being his old jeans-and-ball-cap-wearing self.

The only real dud is “Where My Girls At,” which is basically a retread of Jason Aldean’s “She’s Country” that generously includes women north of the Mason-Dixon line.

One of the best tracks is the only one Chris didn’t have a hand in writing, Rodney Crowell’s “I Ain’t Livin’ Long Like This,” a meaty, up-tempo slab of outlaw attitude that Waylon Jennings took to No. 1 in 1980. It’s actually a perfect fit, and it’s too bad we had to wait so long to hear it.

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