Music Review: Pat Green, "Cannonball"
Release Date: August 22, 2006
Label: BNA Entertainment
· Official Site
by Paul Schultz
Published: September 13, 2006
Pat Green hopes a mighty "Cannonball" will break through national mainstream country barriers with his newest release on Nashville’s big studio BNA Records. This is the tenth album from a Texan singer/songwriter that has paid his dues playing college parties and clubs, and releasing music independently, in the Lone Star state since 1995. His fiery brand of outlaw country has won legions of fans in his home state, while the rest of the country is just beginning to appreciate his talents.
Like most of those living outside Texas, my first exposure to Pat Green was the hit top-five title track from his 2003 album "Wave on Wave". His vocals were rough-around-the-edges, and his music was, too. The next year's follow-up album "Lucky Ones" failed to produce a comparable hit song, but Green was gaining a steady following through extensive touring. This is how I happened to see him live, opening with Gretchen Wilson for Kenny
Chesney's "Somewhere In the Sun" Tour that stormed the nation last
summer. It was there I experienced Green for myself, powering through one
country rock song after another with a wall of sound and a rambunctious spirit.
Pat Green hopes to take his brand of
"Texas country" to the masses.
That style serves him well on "Cannonball," which embraces a rock
sound just as freely as country twang -- maybe even a little bit more so. The
opening title track is reminiscent of John Mellencamp's heartland rock and it's
no wonder -- producer Don Gehman worked with Mellencamp during the height of his popularity in the 1980's. He was also producer and engineer on Hootie & the Blowfish's seminal "Cracked Rear View", which may explain why Green sounds like Darius Rucker every once in a while. Gehman is no stranger to genre-bending, having crafted Brian Setzer's solo debut "The Knife Feels Like Justice" as the latter was trying to stretch beyond his rockabilly trappings with the Stray Cats. Here he coaxes Green into a hybrid of mainstream country-pop and roots-rocker.
Green co-writes eight of the fourteen songs on "Cannonball", with themes generally about young people in love, complete with visual cues ("You wore my letter jacket to the homecoming football game," for example, from "Love Like That"). He has some impressive collaborators, including several tracks with his drummer Justin Pollard and Patrick Davis'
Springsteen-style working-class songwriting. A highlight of this pairing is
"Dixie Lullaby," a ballad (a rarity for Green unto itself) with its encompassing motif of a parent's love and its effect on shaping their son's life. With Matraca Berg, he crafts "Finder's Keepers," a Bob-Seger-"We've-Got-Tonight"-type
duet with Sara Evans -- an obvious corporate pairing that works nonetheless.
Brett James has contributed to much success with his songwriting, most recently on Carrie Underwood's "Jesus, Take The Wheel." Here he creates
"Lost Without You" with Green, featuring a guitar riff that would seem more at home in an alternative rock ballad. They also pen the first single, "Feels Just Like It Should," which is currently parked in the top twenty of the country charts.
Of the songs not written by Green, highlights include Radney Foster's "Love Had Something to Say" and "Way Back Texas," newly-released as the album's second single, by the country music version of Diane Warren, Craig Wiseman ("Live Like You Were Dying"). "I'm Trying to Find It," an ode to things long neglected, is contributed by Tom Hambridge, who also penned the title track to George Thorogood's
latest, "The Hard Stuff".
Long-time fans wonder if he's sold-out on his be-true-to-your-roots origins
in favor of larger acceptance. There are brief indications during the course of "Cannonball" as it takes occasional side-trips into radio-friendly country blandness. On the other hand, it recently debuted at #2 on Billboard's Top Country Albums, an indication that he may be indeed touching a chord with America at-large. His rugged vocals continue to have a down-home appeal, even with its incidental mimicry of Robert Earl Keen, or Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz particularly on "Virginia Belle". An undeniable result of hard work, this "Cannonball" may be just the shot across the bow country music needs to awaken to the distinctive talents of Pat Green.
Pat Green - "Cannonball"
02. Way Back Texas
03. Love Like That
04. Dixie Lullaby
05. Feels Just Like It Should
06. Missing Me
07. Virginia Belle
08. Finder's Keepers
09. Won't Let Love
10. Lost Without You
11. I'm Trying To Find It
12. Love Had Something To Say
13. Learn How To Live
14. Sleeping With The Lights On