By Tyler Hodg
The genre of country music is one of the worst offenders in producing soulless drivel. J.D. Malone and the Experts’ latest effort, Town and Country, is superior to the work of most mainstream artists in the same classification, but that’s not saying much. Where the album succeeds in exerting passion, it lacks in quality songs.
The humdrum tone of Town and Country is evident in the first track, “Courage Under Fire.” The upbeat ditty lacks a sense of energy, and feels subdued for no apparent reason. What follows does little to rectify the feeling, and it isn’t until the fourth song, “Town and Country,” that any sort of power is felt.
The second-last song of the seven-track album, “Weight of the World,” is easily the most interesting piece. The somber start eventually leads into a beautiful explosion of background vocals and orchestrated cellos. However, it is over much too quickly. Greatness is teased, only to be ripped away 30 seconds later.
Despite its downfalls, there are respectable elements of Town and Country. One thing worth recognizing is the personal lyrics that flow through each of the songs. The title track appears to be the most honest, with the lines “My Grandpa was not the kindest man, but he sure as hell was good to me / I wish the rest of the world would have known him like he let himself be known to me,” painting a clear picture.
Another solid aspect of the album is the instrumentation. While the performances are controlled, and never burst with flavor, the songs are more well-rounded thanks to the addition of organs, accordions, and cellos. This is specifically the case in the song “Light Was Born.” The extra layers bring an interesting twist to an otherwise generic track.
But when talking about this album, there is one major elephant in the room: the package design. Like its musical counterpart, the art work is uninspired. Most importantly, there is no reason in 2016 for a simple cover of a face to be as pixelated as that of Town and Country.
J.D. Malone and the Experts’ album is painfully mediocre. Nothing sticks out as spectacular, and the songs aren’t original enough to warrant multiple listens. It’s clear the music was written with good intentions, but unfortunately, Town and Country doesn’t deliver anything new to not only country music, but any genre.
Town and Country was released on March 1 by Firebird Records.