With four albums under his belt, Jake Owen seems to have really found his groove with his latest release American Love. The Florida Native has had a bit of sand and ocean air sprinkled in his music throughout his career, with tracks like “Beachin” and “Barefoot Bluejean Night” but record number five is a summer soundtrack through and through and Owen has taken hold of his beachy roots with this one. It has been three years since he put out a full-length and Owen has gone through many trials and tribulations in the meantime. Between his own divorce and his father’s cancer diagnosis, listeners would expect American Love to reflect those experiences with songs of heartbreak and struggle, however it is quite to opposite. This album covers all the bases from summer jams to love songs and that variety in and of itself may be his way of healing.
The title track opens with beat boxing and it oozes summer sun conveying lyrics of “two young hearts and one cool car”. The front end of the album follows suit and features songs like “Everybody Dies Young”, “VW Van” (Inspired by Owen’s own VW van who makes an appearance on the cover), and “Good Company” that all preach good times and living life with a smile and your face. Sandwiched right up against that on the second half Owen shows his heart strings a little bit more. Tunes about the end of a relationship in “LAX”, duet ballad featuring Hillary Lindsey “When You Love Someone” and a love song to an old love “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” balance out American Love perfectly. Owen mixes up equal parts nashville steel, groove, and summer vibes to create an album that is diverse but feels very genuine complete with a horn section and features from two other artists (Hillary Lindsey and Chris Stapleton). He also shows himself as a vocal powerhouse with each and every song.
I will admit, American Love isn’t paving a new path for country. This records topics and styles are slightly typical but in a good, country-lovers kind of way. Owen said “there are a lot of things on this record that have been said before, but it is the feeling of the songs, the sonic nature of them and the lyrics that will make it different than what people have heard before.” This mission could not be more accurate. There’s something about American Love that seems very fresh and it’s definitely a stand out record for Owen proving his first decade in country music is only just the beginning for him.
(by Jennifer Boylen)