When one thinks of thinks of the hometowns of country musicians Rochester Hills, Michigan doesn’t exactly slap you in the face and say “YEE HAW…COUNTRY!” But when it comes to Jana Kramer, her famous ex’s song rings true, “Country Must Be Country Wide.”
Kramer enthralled pop country listeners with her self-titled debut album which featured the heartbreaking “Why Ya Wanna” and “Whiskey” (I still have no idea why the effervescent revenge song and hilariously accompanying video “I Hope It Rains” wasn’t a hit).
It all seemed like she was unfortunately forgotten when her stirring and hopeful song “Love” stalled at No. 32 on the country charts (this song still gives me chills and is thankfully the fourth track on her new album). With the release of her sophomore album Thirty One, Kramer has reintroduced the new country landscape to songs of hope, loss and a lot of “I’m over yous.”
The album kicks off with a trio of fantastic songs. The hard-driving “Boomerang,” uses a metaphor of the Aussie weapon as a guy who leaves and keeps trying to come back. “Don’t Touch My Radio” is a groover where Kramer accepts her love interest’s intentions of riding in a truck and having a good time as long as he doesn’t change her country radio station. The lead single “I Got The Boy,” is a song that evokes lost love, regret and eventually acceptance as the protagonist laments that while she was with the boy in his formative years, he’s now a man and married to someone else.
“Circles” is a wonderfully written love song and should be the album’s next single. If you liked Kelsea’s Ballerini’s “Love Me Like You Mean It,” you will appreciate this number. “Bullet” is another boot stomping song where Kramer is clearly happy that she “dodged a bullet” by not following through and marrying her ex. “Dance in the Rain” is Kramer’s nod to getting back on track after a break-up. This is a style of song that she excels at…the vulnerability in her voice carries the tune and truly shows why she is a special performer.
Thirty One isn’t all super-serious. “Said No One Ever” is a refreshing and fun reggae-eque romp where Kramer name checks things that certainly do not suck. “Pop The Bottle,” musically has a Carrie Underwood “Last Night” sonic sound, and is simply a fun drinking song.
“Just Like In The Movies” has that fairy tale love song feel that Taylor Swift evoked on her first two albums. It’s a sweet song that Kramer drives home with her striking and emotive vocals. Closing out the album is the sorrowful “Last Song” where she reconciles her previous relationship. It’s a piano-driven heart-breaker about taking off the ring and moving on.
In a pop country radio world where booty shaking, hard partying and picking up chicks is all the rage, Jana Kramer manages to pull off a refreshingly honest album about real life situations that most people can certainly relate to.
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Jana Kramer – Thirty One