Country newcomer Easton Corbin recently found himself inside the top ten of Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart with “A Little More Country Than That” and is now gearing up to release his self-titled debut album, Easton Corbin. With his old school traditional style of country music, Corbin has been widely regarded as being the new torchbearer of traditional country. Does he live up to those expectations on his album?
Corbin has made it known that his influences include country legends Keith Whitley, Merle Haggard, and George Jones. On his debut album, those influences shine through on just about every song. With vocals that infuse the old style of Whitley with a more mainstream tradition style like Joe Nichols, Corbin proves he can sing just about anything from honky tonk tunes to classic heartbreakers.
The album opens with the infectitious “Roll With Me” that contains a production style that would’ve fit in perfectly during the traditional movement of the 1990’s. The album continues with the debut single, “A Little More Country Than That,” and the heartbreaking “Far From Memphis.” The latter song finds him singing about trying to leave the pain from a failed relationship behind by driving to Miami but finds out the pain travels with you no matter where or how far you go.
The album’s strongest honky-tonk song is “The Way Love Looks” which contains all the necessities of a great honky-tonk tune. The upbeat melody makes it almost impossible to resist the urge to get up and dance. The steel guitar and fiddle riffs are fantastic and only make the song better. Corbin’s vocals are spot on and add plenty of personality to the song about telling a woman how good love looks on her. This song could almost be a happier version of George Strait’s “You Look So Good In Love.”
The album’s strongest song is “Don’t Ask Me ‘Bout a Woman” which finds the narrator talking to his Grandpa on a front porch swing. The conversation leads to the grandpa telling him about how women aren’t “made to figure out they’re just made to love.” To me, this could be the cousin of Brad Paisley’s hit “Waitin’ On a Woman.” The song is filled with an infectitious melody that could be two-stepped to in a bar. Something that can be said about most of the song on the album.
The lone cover on the album is “Let Alone You,” a song that first appeared on Blaine Larsen’s album Rockin’ You Tonight. Though it’s not quite as traditional as Larsen’s version, Corbin brings a more mainstream factor to it which allows it a chance to be released as a single. I prefer Larsen’s vocals on the song but Easton brings his own vocal styling to the song which makes for a hard comparison.
The only slight blemish is the island vibed “A Lot to Learn About Livin'” which finds Corbin experimenting with a more mainstream/less traditional song. With its production, the song sticks out like a sore thumb on a more traditional sounding album. Along with that, the lyrics are fairly average and conveying its message about learning to not sweat the small things and just enjoy life.
Overall, its a fantastic debut from one of country music’s brightest rising stars. The production sticks to Easton Corbin’s more traditional leaning artistic beliefs and his vocal performance shows how comfortable he is singing that style. If I was a drinker, I could see myself sitting at home or in my garage listening to this album with a few cold ones…it’s that good.
Now depending on if country radio can take a break to give Corbin a chance, he has a real shot at becoming one of country’s biggest stars. If you love traditional country music, this album should definitely be in your collection.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
(Easton Corbin’s debut album, Easton Corbin, hits stores on Tuesday, March 2, 2010)