The recipe for a hit country song seemed pretty fool proof and well-tested, that is until Chris Lane came along. The singer has given his own twist to the genre–take a bit of effortless falsetto, country backbone and a touch of R&B style and you get his new record Girl Problems.
Lane’s debut full-length, lovingly titled Girl Problems as a tongue-and-cheek nod to the recurring theme throughout (as well as the closing track), is not inherently country. However, each track is sprinkled with country melodies and instruments that make it perfect to sit on country charts. Girl Problems follows the lead of acts like Florida Georgia Line, Sam Hunt, and others who successfully blend genres to bring a fresh new sound to what country fans love while also earning massive airplay. Not only did Chris Lane take a page out of his country colleagues books, but he has also channeled some pop stars, like Justin Timberlake and Usher, on this release.
Girl Problems is teetering back and forth between pop swagger and pop country but neither end of the spectrum feel reaching or unnatural. Lane’s vocal style–rich and slightly gravelly at the low end and light and smooth in the falsetto–is very distinct and not testing the boundaries of musical genres would be a disservice to his talent and listeners. His commitment to his vocal style is the probably only thing that keeps Girl Problems sounding cohesive and Lane makes it work very well. Many country artists have been had more of a pop lean recently, but Chris Lane is without a doubt a stand out in this category.
If “Who’s It’s Gunna Be” or “All The Time” would have been standing on their own, I would have immediately assumed a pop superstar was singing them, but they find a home with in Girl Problems. “Let Me Love You” may be one of the most impressive parts of the album. It sounds like a standard country love song but it’s actually a cover, the song originally by R&B singer Mario. Lane makes it his own and it fits seamlessly with the other eleven songs.
Girl Problems may have pop elements added in from start to finish, but it also has it’s share of songs that are very much country. Opening track, “Fix” has been sitting on the top of country charts for quite some time and with more than 20 million plays on Spotify it is one many would be familiar with. With it’s catchy guitar melody and upbeat chorus, it’s an obvious choice to begin the album. “For Her” follows suit with a catchy chorus and the first introduction to Lane’s falsetto. Others include the title track, “Her Own Kind of Beautiful” and “Saturday Night”.
Girl Problems is anything but another country album and it doesn’t color inside the lines. Chris Lane impressively pulls off every risk he took with this record and can comfortably sit among the big names in his genre and also appeal to non-country fans. The goal of Lane and producer Joey Moi from the start was to create a vibe that people could groove and dance to, and Girl Problems has absolutely achieved that.
(by Jennifer Boylen)