Jon Pardi - Write You A Song

HumpHead Records

Californian Jon Pardi was signed to his Capitol Records contract in 2010. The label released his first single, Missin’ You Crazy in March 2012. A year later they released Up All Night, his second single which went top ten. One year after that, a third single, What I Can’t Put Down is due for release. It’s the opening track on this debut album, that Capitol released in America in January 2014 and has now gained a UK release via the good folks at HumpHead Records. In this fast-moving, instant world, that snail’s-pace launch of a major new talent is way too slow. Back in the late 1920s, when Jimmie Rodgers was country music’s lynchpin, within three years of being signed to RCA Victor he’d released more than a dozen singles and even recorded with Louis Armstrong. It’s about time these major record labels stopped pussy-footin’ around with talented artists’ careers and got the wheels in motion much, much quicker. Assuming that some executive at Capitol signed Jon Pardi because they believed in his talent and potential to succeed, then surely it would have made economic sense to realise that potential sooner rather than later. Get shot of the accountants and put music people in charge then major labels like Capitol stand a better chance of overcoming the downturn in music sales. Scott Borchetta at Big Machine has proved that.

Right, now let’s look at the music. The well-crafted songs here live up to the expectations put upon this young man after the positive press, his acclaimed live shows and the success of his initial singles. Most are co-writes with Nashville heavyweights like Brett Beavers, Casey Beathard, Monty Holmes, Kent Blazy and Tia Sellers. Some probably go back a few years, which in the fast-moving music world, can be detrimental and this is very much the case with When I’ve Been Drinkin’, probably the weakest track here, which hints a little too closely to Joe Nichols’ 2005 hit Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off. But one minor faux pas I’m prepared to let go, as Pardi brings a kind of storyteller’s vision to many of these songs, which has been sadly lacking in too much of today’s country mainstream.

He reminds us of his California roots in the excellent title song with his sly reference to Bakersfield. This is a rockin’ country song that is infectious. You will go right back and play it again. Even more impressive is the fiddle-and-steel driven Love You From Here. A great country song, the production is crisp and inviting, but it is Pardi’s voice that makes the song jump out at you. Even though he’s ace at crafting country sing-alongs, Pardi can relay grown-up truths that are all too rare in today’s cookie-cutter country. It’s a great pity that his superb Love Hangs Around, a co-write with Trent Summar and Odie Blackmon is not included on this album. It would have lifted the whole album up just a notch. As it is, this is a damn fine debut by a guy who could be around for the long run, that is, of course, if the suits at Capitol Nashville really believe in his talent. If they do, then they need to become way more proactive.