I have to confess I had a hard time writing this review. I couldn’t turn the album off long enough to put opinion to paper. This Tony Brown – Rodney Clawson – Joey Moi produced masterpiece is a refreshing, romantic, playful must-have on your playlist.
Undoubtedly, Jake Owen’s “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” title track has become a career-defining song “exploding as the biggest hit of Owen’s career.”
“Barefoot Blue Jean Night” will long be remembered as the steamy Summer of 2011 Anthem. This digitally certified gold single is gearing up for platinum status with over 800,000 downloads prior to album release and sits in the Top 5 on both Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and Music Row’s Country Breakout Chart. The video is riding the crest of success at #4 on CMT.com, has over 3.5 million VEVO views and has been described by iTunes as “one of the top music videos on the iTunes store.” It’s the title track of Jake’s third studio album available everywhere August 29, 2011. And most importantly, Barefoot Blue Jean Night “represents who I am more than anything I’ve ever recorded,” Jake shares. “If nothing else happens after this I can honestly say I did the absolute best I can do. I’ve never felt this good about music or anything in my career as I do right now.”
Jake has good reason to feel good about his music, his career and “Barefoot Blue Jean Night”. The album starts off with “Anywhere With You”, a romantic invitation to “pick a spot on any old map. I travel light and my bags are packed.” Its playful lyric and passionate chorus will repeat in your head and seduce you with each listen.
Jake shared in an interview with Country Music Pride that “my gut instinct is what got me here and so there’s a lot of songs on this record that are strictly based off my gut instinct and what I like.” He reflects, “if you want to get better at your craft, you have to push yourself, take risks and try something different.”
It’s that instinctual, fearless risk-taking that led Jake on a search for a more personal sound and new musical direction for this album. He teamed up on five of the album’s tracks with legendary producer Tony Brown (George Strait, Reba, Vince Gill credits to his name). Then with Jake’s restlessness and Tony’s blessing “to continue experimenting with the sound of the record” Jake approached Rodney Clawson about producing the Clawson co-written track “Keepin’ It Country”. Clawson’s songwriting credits include George Strait’s “I Saw God Today”, Big & Rich’s “Lost in This Moment”, and the Jason Aldean hits “Hicktown”, “Amarillo Sky”, “Johnny Cash”, “Crazy Town” and “Why”.
“Keepin’ It Country” hails the reminder that “it doesn’t matter where you are, it’s the same old stripes, the same old stars” and … “it’s good to see everybody out there keepin’ it country.” A line, I guess, which could hail the invitation it doesn’t matter who you are either, as Clawson suggested bringing co-producer Joey Moi into the project. Moi is noted for his work with legendary rock band Nickelback and “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” is his first country music experience.
“Joey came to town with all these extra ideas. He blew my mind,” Owen comments. “Instantly when I started working with these guys I felt, ‘Wow. They get it.’ They had the sound I’d been hearing in my head.”
Well, that journey to the creation of this country-rockin’, fun-loving album of inspiration echoes through every single track. In lyric, length and musical composition, “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” is loaded with radio-ready, crowd-pleasing, fan-building songs.
The strong musical simplicity, the honesty of the heartfelt tale and the richness of Jake’s vocals rock a shiver of compassion through your veins as you lay “Wide Awake” tossin’ n’ turnin’ to this straight-forward story of … aw ! I don’t wanna ruin it for you. Check this out.
Jake drops the tempo down with an enticing piano ballad trip to “Heaven”. Whether it’s the piano, the performer or the play on words that seduces in this temptuous invitation is probably best left behind the confessional curtain, along with the “Apple Pie Moonshine” that headlights this heavenly havoc. Don’t let this apologetic cowboy in his fixer-up truck fool you. The “Moonshine” up in “Heaven” has him and his country-club cutie “dancing around in the high beams with her hands in the back pockets of my jeans.”
“The Journey of Your Life” is a moving conversational ballad reminding you of how the simple things in life help maintain your balance. With wisdom like “you’ll need to lose some to be a winner, have courage to surrender ” and “you’ll need to laugh a lot and keep it light on the journey of your life”, it’s a tender reflection we all need every now and then. Okay, so you’re not going to want to give up your Smartphone but you’d weather well to have this as your ringtone.
Jake and things heat up again in a sultry struggle with passion and desire in “Alone With You”. Pleading, “please don’t shut that door, I can’t win this war, your body’s like a pill I shouldn’t take” he tries everything humanly possible to convince himself and his weakness that they shouldn’t be alone. “Don’t say it doesn’t matter ’cause it’s gonna matter to me,” he begs. But does he succumb? Turn it on to uncover the details. This one’s romantically intense and Jake delivers it like he’s living it.
Country music is known for its themes. But it’s how an artist handles the telling of the tale that allows a common-to-country theme to take flight. “Settin’ the World on Fire” is so lyrically visual you can feel the breeze whipping at your hair and restlessness whipping at your soul as you grasp the wheel of turbulence gearing up to take off. This window-rolled-down “chasin’ down a feeling running on desire” pickup plays over and over again in my head.
“Nobody Feelin’ No Pain” is a high-energy, foot-stompin’ motel party scene rockin’ lyrics of “two a.m. room 509 we were all still good to go. We damn near blew the speaker out of that alarm clock radio.” Its unique talking bridge further pumps up this testosterone-packed event with “we mighta messed up a motel room but we sure enough had some fun.” This one might not be blaring out of ‘radio’ but it’ll definitely be blaring out of ‘your’ speakers.
Jake brings it down in tempo and mood and wraps up this upbeat “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” compilation with the one track he chose to contribute his creative co-write on this time around. Sharing the memory of something we all have lurking somewhere in the archive of our hearts, “The One That Got Away” will stir up those memories that linger so long and so strong you can taste the love and feel the pain. A sweet song, tenderly delivered.
It’s not like Jake’s 2006 debut “Startin’ With Me” and his 2009 sophomore follow-up “Easy Does It” didn’t reflect his personality, songwriting craft or love of enjoying life, it’s just that “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” seems to be a no-holds-barred release of the totality of Jake’s joyful personality and creative collaborations. The album is infectiously happy and you find a new way to fall in love with another song every time you play it.
Be sure to tune in to our interview with Jake or download it to your device at iTunes and feel the authentic gratitude and bliss Jake Owen projects when he says “I think this record pretty much describes me to a T and I’m proud to say that. And I’m looking forward to everyone hearing it.”
Available for you to hear everywhere August 29, 2011, “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” is as romantic, playful and upbeat as the artist himself. Be sure to pick up or download your copy and continue to ride the wake of success with Jake Owen and “Barefoot Blue Jean Night.”