I have long been a proponent of keeping radio local and have always avoided syndicated morning show programming whenever possible. I have to give the devil his due though, Bobby Bones did good when it came to Chris Janson. The morning show DJ had the guts to play and support a song that was WAY too “country” for the overlords at iHeart Radio, who prefer to play it safe with what’s heard on “new country” FM airwaves. By bucking the system Bones helped skyrocket Janson’s “Buy Me A Boat” to No. 1 on the charts. Now with Janson’s full-length album Buy Me A Boat on record shelves (or I should say available online via the usual retailers), one question remains: Is the quirky “Buy Me A Boat” an anomaly? Not even close.
This album is filled with bar room stompers and tender love songs which carry a true country sound. And that’s a good thing.
“Power of Positive Drinkin’” is definitely a hit in the making. It’s a boot stompin’ song about a guy who’s got nothing good happening in his life (job sucks, girl left him, etc.), but despite it all beer will always be there for him. He sings, “By number 10 life’s good again.” Amen. “Right in the Middle” is another good-time country rock party song with crunchy guitars in the forefront. Purists will say the verses are rapped. To these ears it’s more Johnny Cash sing-talk style than Colt Ford.
“Holdin’ Her” may just be this album’s finest moment. This is an acoustic driven love song that will melt a lot of hearts as Janson tells the tale of finding the right one (and eventually having a baby girl) after years of playing around, waking up in strange beds, and sometimes not even remembering how he got there. “Under The Sun” is another slowed down Blake Sheltonesque sounding song about appreciating what you have. “Where You Come In” is a tender country love song where he sings “I don’t know where I belong, that’s where you come in.” In good and bad times she’s there for him and he appreciates it.
Janson brought in modern country hit-maker Tim McGraw to sing “Messin’ With Jesus,” an undeniably country song with ominous guitars (and a wonderfully sounding steel guitar). McGraw’s smooth vocals add so much to an already great song about keeping on the good side of Jesus, even though the singer may not always do the right thing. Similarly, “Back In My Drinkin’ Days” is an uptempo song featuring steel guitars, harmonicas and rockin’ guitars which reflects on the trouble one used to get into in your younger/wilder days. The song grooves and gets your head bobbin’, and must be a blast to hear live.
Janson isn’t immune to putting out a country radio pleaser on Buy Me A Boat. “Save A Little Sugar” is a familiar sounding, mid-tempo made-for-new-country-radio song about a girl…think Cole Swindell, Luke Bryan, and the like. No new ground, but it’s certainly catchy.
The album closes with two songs about different ways of surviving hard times to win in the end. “Yeah It Is” possesses old swingin’ country guitars and tells the tale of a hard luck single mom who might be turning it around after a chance meeting with a good guy at a bar. “White Trash” is a story song about growing up poor white trash and looking to the other side of the tracks to find true love, despite her daddy’s protests.
Bobby Bones took on a long-shot with Chris Janson and the singer won big. Odds are we are going to hear a lot more of Janson in the next year as there are a number of songs on Buy Me A Boat that are ready-made to top the charts. The question is: Will new country radio go all in? I’d bet on it.
Pick up By Me A Boat by Chris Janson on iTunes.