Friday, September 17, 2010

Album Review: Joey + Rory - Album #2

The sophomore effort from Joey + Rory kicks off with some Nashville music scene commentary in the opening title track.  They demonstrate an awareness of what is at stake with the release of album number two.  It is a make-or-break moment in which an artist fears the dreaded "sophomore slump."  Fortunately, Joey + Rory do not slump on Album #2 - They soar.

The album offers a pleasant surprise in that we get to hear Rory sing lead on a few of the tracks.  He duets with Joey on the title track, and on the romantic ballad "Born to Be Your Woman."  He gets a solo of his own on "My Ol' Man," - one of the finest tracks on the album - in which he cites several examples of the way he has been shaped by the influence, example, and discipline of his father.

Though the album has its share of serious moments, it also includes some genuinely funny ditties.  One of the most notable examples is "Baby, I'll Come Back to You," which namechecks every country singer from Dolly Parton to Brad Paisley, and includes humor that only country music fans can appreciate.  Joey delivers a humorous take on the theme of cheating with "God Help My Man."  But the funny songs don't crowd out those with a deeper meaning.  On "Where Jesus Is," a song that is based on a Bible verse, Joey shows a spiritual side without sounding preachy.  Another highlight is "The Horse That Nobody Could Ride" - a narrative that demonstrates the wisdom of using persuasion rather than force.

Album #2 retains the neotraditional-style production that has always characterized Joey + Rory's sound.  Though it does lean toward traditional country sounds, it still has enough polish to sound modern, rather than sounding like a relic from a bygone decade.  A few bluegrass-flavored tracks add some extra variety to the album's sound.

The album has a couple of weak moments, one of which is "You Ain't Right" - an awkward attempt to celebrate the unique and peculiar, and an attempt that merely inspires a raised eyebrow.  "This Song's for You," while enjoyable, could be perceived as pandering, and it does not fare well in comparison with the other tracks.

But despite its weaknesses, Album #2 is overall a strong effort overflowing with heart, wit, and sincerity.  If you love country music as real as it comes, this album's for you.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)