Album Review: Charles Kelley – The Driver

Needless to say, there’s been a ton of interest in the debut solo project from Charles Kelley. Known for his work as co-lead singer of Lady Antebellum, the singer takes on a little bit different of a sound and style than you might be accustomed to.

There’s a definite muscle to this music that will surprise many. While there are some tracks that have those same pop-ish lyrical hooks as the famous trio, with this disc, Kelley’s vocals are very much up front and center with plenty of power behind them.

The set’s first track, “Your Love,” is a potent example of this. Both Kelley’s trademark vocals and the instrumental prowess of the backing musicians, sets the tone for this album. Not only is Kelley’s vocals given proper showcase, but the grooves on this track will also lure you in. It’s a sonic treat from start to finish, courtesy of the producer extraordinaire – Paul Worley.

The grooves also rise to the surface of the brooding “Dancing Around It,” where he manages to hit some of the finest notes on the set. “Lonely Girl” also dazzles the ears with a dramatic flair with seductive lyrics from Chris Stapleton and Jesse Frasure.

One of the most personal tracks on the disc is the moving “The Only One Who Gets Me,” which was inspired by his wife Cassie. Kelley manages to strike the song with an emotional depth unlike anything he’s ever recorded. Miranda Lambert adds her touch on “I Wish You Were Here,” and he scored a vocal cameo from the iconic Stevie Nicks on his cover of “Southern Accents.”

Needless to say, Kelley has scored a very impressive album. But, had Capitol simply looped the set’s closer, “Leaving Nashville” nine times consecutively – this would be well worth the purchase. To some, this song might be a little too “Inside Baseball” – but the thoughtful lyrics about a person who knows the heartaches the music business can throw at you, but still you stay because of the undeniable highs involved in what you do can strike an emotional chord with singers, songwriters, instrumentalists, and yes…journalists. And, even if it is too “Inside Baseball,” it’s the best reflection upon the passion exuded on Music Row since Lacy J. Dalton’s “16th Avenue.”

Charles Kelley has stressed that this solo disc is not the end of Lady Antebellum, and while I hope that is true, I will also say that I hope he finds more opportunities to showcase his solo muse. From the sound The Driver, he’s pretty damn good at it!

Charles Kelley album

Author: Chuck Dauphin

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