Verdict's on "Judge Jerrod's" Side
T. Yap | Sydney, NSW, Australia | 07/14/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Prime Cuts: They Should Have Named Her Cocaine, Lover, Lover, Old School New Again
The Nashville conveyor belt took a hiatus with the release of Niemann's "Judge Jerrod & The Hung Jury." Though Niemann describes himself as a "throwback" and a "hat act," Niemann's music in reality defies genre or eras. He throws into the mix a pinch of traditional country, sultry R&B, 70s Eagles rock and today's pop-edged country yet without restricting himself to any single sonic form. On the cursory level, with 20 tracks this CD looks inflated with music. However, on closer inspection 8 out of these are humorous interludes and skits (often spoken). As the album title "Judge Jerrod and the Hung Jury" hints, Niemann also has a knack for humor. Often they work but after repeated listens, they lose their stint. As for the twelve real musical cuts, Niemann co-wrote or wrote 10 out of them with single "Lover, Lover" being a cover of Sonia Dada's hit and Robert Earl Keen's "The Buckin' Song."
After a cinematic opening sampled from the free garnered from google that starts off like a movie trailer, Niemann segues into the traditional leaning "They Should Have Named Her Cocaine." A delightful excursion into stone cold country territory this steel laden ballad speaks of love's addiction with some lazy jazzy nuances. Niemann does well in covering Sonia Dada's "You Don't Treat Me No Good" wisely giving it a cutesier title "Lover, Lover." Layered with harmony vocals (all done by Niemann himself) over a catchy sing-a-long melody, this is the perfect vehicle to ride Niemann to the upper echelon of the chart. The other cover is Robert Earl Keen's "The Bucking Song"--a fun novelty number that adds to the comic relief of the album's flow. The pendulum swings back to rustic fold with the gorgeous John Anderson-esque "Old School New Again." Maybe what makes "Old School New" so alluring is it is biographical as Niemann searches his heart as to how he feels about his love for traditional country music. On the other hand, "Come Back to Me" is a slick gaudy R&B tinged ballad that ought to make Niemann viable in today's market of Underwoods and Swifts.
Though Niemann first made a name for himself first as a songwriter penning Garth Brooks' "Good Ride Cowboy," Flynnville Train's "Redneck Side of Me," and Jamey Johnson's "Rebelicious," maybe he is saving some of his better songs for his own clients. A few of the tracks here are not up to Nieman's lofty standards. "Down in Mexico" tells of Niemann's euphoric feeling of escaping to the beaches of Mexico. Nevertheless, it's portrayal of Mexico is overtly caricature and the song's theme is so tried that it loses its vitality. Despite its ear-grabbing melody "One More Drinking Song" is as deep as the song title suggests. Much better is the "For Everclear" tagged at the tail end of the disc. "For Everclear" is an inspirational tune that chronicles a fun-lovin' bunch of college students who learn in a `night class' that we live all year.
On the whole, "Judge Jerrod & the Hung Jury" scores on the side of Niemann's ability to color outside the lines and he does color well. On most of the tracks, Niemann shows creativity and mastery over various genres of music yet he has wisely been able to make this disc enjoyable. Maybe if he were to restrain from writing such a lion's share of the disc, this project might even be better. Nevertheless, regardless of this quibble, the verdict's on Judge Jerrod's side.
Fine songs, but lose the skits.
Bill | Charlotte, NC United States | 07/25/2010
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The 12 songs on the CD are fine. If he had just left it at the songs, I'd have probably given it 3.5 stars. Unfortunately, he filled it with skits that sound like something he and a buddy created on the fly after having too many beers. They're an attempt to be funny, but they aren't and they end up being a burden as you either have to delete them from your playlist or press skip every time. The skits bother me more than they should because they give the album a feel of arrogance. Did you ever have a boss or teacher that you felt talked just to hear themselves talk? That's how I felt after listing to the album. By the time I was halfway through, I was asking myself "Who in the heck produced this?" Sure enough when I got home and looked, it was produced by Jerrod Neimann himself. Apparently nobody with experience was in the studio to keep him in check.
As I said, the songs are actually pretty good. "Cocaine," "Lover, Lover," and "Bakersfield" are my favorites. "Come Back to Me" has a great funky beat. Reminds me of a Maroon 5 tune. Unfortunately, every time I hear it I still hear the silly skit that followed it in my head (an over the top "dumb redneck" stereotype complaining that it wasn't country music). I imagine the songs will be good enough to leave it on repeat for a couple weeks, but I don't think they have the staying power that will have you going back to this CD after the next good country CD comes out.