Singles Roundup – Band Edition: ZBB, The Henningsens, The Band Perry, The Steeldrivers, Train

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March 9, 2013

zac brown band uncaged

Zac Brown Band, “Jump Right In”

“The Southern wind sings again an island lullaby!”  What a fun way to say, “Here’s the token ‘tropical’ single from this ZBB album!” But whatever. It sounds like Mario Party.

Written by Zac Brown, Wyatt Durette, and Jason Mraz

Grade: B

Listen here

Henningsens American Beautiful

The Henningsens, “American Beautiful”

The long: It’s awesome to see a two-generation family band score a hit. And the potential is there: the song has a tight melody, and they wrote basically half of The Band Perry’s first album. But they sound like a Lady A tribute band here, and the lyrics are generic to the point of parody. Sorry; I’m tired of odes to That Special Girl – that anonymous one who’s sweet but fiesty! God-fearin’ but hell-raisin’! Pretty in a black dress OR blue jeans! Country as sweet tea!  It feels like a weird, heavy-handed ego stroke for the listener, who is naturally supposed to imagine herself as this exalted Supergirl-next-door. And things don’t get any better when Superguy takes over in the second verse.

The short: It’s called “American Beautiful.”

Written by Brett Beavers, Aaron Henningsen, Brian Henningsen, and Clara Henningsen

Grade: C-

Listen here

Band Perry Done

The Band Perry, “Done”

Speaking of them, I’m digging the upgraded ‘tude. This kiss-off can’t touch the craft or creative spark of “Better Dig Two,” but it’s got a dose of the same fire in the performance and production. Hopeful about the album.

Grade: B

Listen here

Steeldrivers Hammer Down

The SteelDrivers, “I’ll Be There”

I’m missing the fire from these reliables, though, particularly on a song with so much tasty spite. It kind of plods along; I wish they’d punched up the arrangement and lead vocal a bit. But you can’t argue with the harmonies when they hit the wailin’ B section.

Grade: B-

Listen here

Train Bruises

Train featuring Ashley Monroe, “Bruises”

Ohhh, TrainI believe this is crack #3 at the country market? After the Martina duet version of “Marry Me” and that banjo remix of “Hey, Soul Sister”? So many gifts, Train. We thank you.

Actually, I’d be fine if this one did find an audience – and not just because it’s got Ashley Monroe, although there’s no easier way to imbue your record with some extra warmth and humanity. It’s just a feel-good number. The production thumps along pleasantly, the interplay of voices is fun, and the premise feels real and relatable. You can’t take it too seriously, since this is a band that routinely fills sincere songs with lyrics like “Good to see you’re still beautiful; gravity hasn’t started to pull!” or “Leaving you makes me want to cry!” or “Looooses the vibe that separates!” (…?) But there’s still a lot to like.

Written by Patrick Monahan, Espen Lind, and Amund Björklund

Grade: B+

Listen here

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  1. “Jump Right In” is a big reason I don’t really care for the ZBB album. The song is more annoying than anything else. On repeated listenings it becomes grating, especially the line Dan references.

    I do love the Train/Ashley Monroe duet. Pat and Ashely’s voices work really well together and she brings a nice sunny vibe that proves she has range beyond traditional country, making her even more well-rounded than anyone thought. Is there anything she CAN’T do?

  2. Markus MeyerNo Gravatar says:

    “American Beautiful” just seems so disconnected to me.

    Grade: C

    “Jump Right In” further proves that ZBB are the best at making summer songs.

    Grade: B+

    “Bruises” is awesome. I guess that’s what happens when 2 great voices combine.

    Grade: A-

    Haven’t heard the other 3

  3. Greg MNo Gravatar says:

    I think the new Band Perry Album is my most anticipated album of the year. Really liked Better Dig Two and I’m really digging Done right now too. I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a great sophomore effort from them.

  4. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    Agreed on all except “I’ll Be There,” which was actually one of my favorite songs from Hammer Down. To me it feels haunting, not plodding.

    As for “Jump Right In,” I think it’s a fun song, but I agree that it still feels very expected coming from ZBB. But I guess I’m just relieved that the single slot went to it instead of “Island Song,” which I find insufferable.

    Count me among those excited for the new Band Perry album!

  5. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar says:

    “she brings a nice sunny vibe that proves she has range beyond traditional country”

    As much as I love that Ashley is a trad darling, I think I love her best of all when that voice is contrasted with a poppier background, like on this or the oft-forgotten “I Don’t Want To.”

  6. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    I loved “I Don’t Want To.”

    I’m still partial to Ashley’s traditional side, but I agree that she’s adept at tackling more pop-oriented material as well.

  7. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    I’m partial to her traditional country side, but I agree that she also sounds very good even when doing more pop stuff, including this Train song and “I Don’t Want To.” I did think that her stuff with Trent Dabbs was boring though.

  8. MattNo Gravatar says:

    Ashley is great and super talented. But she’s a stylist and as such, she cannot sing super rangy songs, as much as she would want to. She tried at the WB party at CRS and it was painful. It then contributed to her own song being off. But recovered when she and Ran backed Sheryl Crow on the Eagles cover Sheryl did.

  9. bobNo Gravatar says:

    I like Zac & BP but for me the best in this group is clearly “Bruises” which I purchased a few months ago on i-Tunes. I like the line “She’s in Queens with the man of her dreams” since I grew up in Queens but I guess that part of NYC was chosen only because it rhymes with dreams. The song is, as you say, a feel good number and I also found that line about the pull of gravity a bit strange. It may seem strange that “Bruises” is the first song I ever heard from Train. I’ll have to check out some more of their music.

  10. TomNo Gravatar says:

    …”american beautiful” is a really catchy radio-single and rather trendy with its biologically homegrown veggies reference. good to see that vegetarians are not excluded anymore from finding their spot in the hash, bacon and eggs world of country music. do you want turnips with that?

    “jump right in” is a decent kick off to the summer song season, i guess.

    “done” with mandolins and that sort of stuff? let’s see what the new album holds in store.

    pity, you didn’t include “i drive your truck”, dan. so far one of the most country and gripping songs this year. lee brice could have a greatest hits album ready long before he’d have a real good “normal” album out. quite sheltonesque, actually – the album thing.

  11. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Tom,
    This is a “band edition.”

  12. Markus MeyerNo Gravatar says:

    I agree with Tom. You should review “I Drive Your Truck”.

  13. Louie MNo Gravatar says:

    I can’t help but chuckle about the Mario Party comparisons with “Jump Right In.” That was hilariously spot-on! Anyway, I think the single is the best summer tune that ZBB has released so far.

  14. TomNo Gravatar says:

    …guess, it was the “jump right in” that made me what quite literally jumping right into the song selection, leeann without paying too much attention to the finer details – or i’m just gettin’ old, blind and more silly these days.

  15. KarlNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve been listening to ‘Bruises’ as if on crack for the last couple of weeks. Hey CU, when is your ‘Like a Rose’ review coming out? :)

  16. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Karl,
    I’m planning a review of it as soon as possible. I’ll just say now, however, that I love, love it.

  17. Looking forward to reading it, Leeann!

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