Often times an artist will ask me to listen to and review their new album, but sometimes an artist interests me enough that I ask them for that privilege. Such is the case with Canadian Country singer Aaron Pritchett’s new album,’ In the Driver’s Seat.’
I received my copy a few days ago and took a cursory look at it at the time, tucking it away for later. When I review any album, I want to give it my full attention. Sometimes that means going to the right place to listen; a sweeping epic montage of Instrumentals might need to be listened to on top of Turtle Mountain with my ipod, away from any outside influence other than rock and sky. A kick ass Rock album needs to be listened to at night, and Jazz needs a hot cup of tea and comfortable armchair. Regardless, I always want to peer at the liner notes, read the lyrics and thank you’s, and get inside the head (sort of) of the artist or band who created the album.
However. I had a one hour drive in the dark, by myself, and about 15 minutes into the trip I broke my own rule! I couldn’t wait for daylight or liner notes. I plugged in ‘In the Driver’s Seat’ and was blown away for the remainder of the trip!
Aaron Pritchett has always been a little bit rock and roll mixed in with country – he grew up on Def Leppard, among other influences and favourite bands – so it should not have come as any surprise that his newest album is a kick ass, toe tapping, steering wheel slapping sort of country rock mix. But it did.
The opening song, ‘Walk all Over Me’, starts out with a rich vibrant drum solo that I can only describe as circular, sexy, and warmly mellow… it grabbed my ears from the get-go and ramped my anticipation up ten notches for what was to follow. Hip and snappy, this tune will get you moving regardless if you are driving (as I was) or hearing it live with room to dance.
A one-two punch is a great way to keep people listening to your album and ‘Light it Up’ follows as the second track. A little less ramped up but no less well written, this is the first radio single off the album. A great song that everyone can relate to: hard working all week – let’s light up the weekend with a few beers, good friends, and a massive bonfire out at Eddie’s farm. Another sexy song that will appeal to both genders – good clean fun.
A third ‘feel-good’ punch would be too much at this point, and Pritchett wisely fills slot number three with a somewhat more mellow song – but also a song with more depth, and a message for those who want to dig deeper into the song lyrics (me). Written during a time when two very famous people went public with indiscretions, ‘Coming Clean’ is a different take on the consequences of telling the truth. Probably one of my favorite songs on the album; with credits to Jessie Sherk as co-writer.
A distinct change of subject matter, fourth track ‘She’s Going Somewhere’ is written from the perspective of an outsider looking in rather than an insider talking about a personal experience. This song wasn’t written by Pritchett but he makes it distinctly his own with twangy country guitars (twangy in a good way) and fantastically clear vocals.
‘Drive’ is nearly the half way mark of the album… I had heard that one song on the album was a Bryan Adams cover and as soon as I heard ‘Drive’, I knew this was the one. Pritchett sounds eerily like Adams in some sections (or is it that the background singer sounds like Adams?). It’s a decent song and does fit with the album despite the fact that the title of ‘In The Driver’s Seat’ was not influenced by the title of this song.
Ah! ‘Livin’ It Up’… the very first listen of this song blew me away. I was a tad disappointed to find that it was not written by Pritchett but that doesn’t lessen my love of this song. Deep lyrics in a trippy melody with a good message of living life to the fullest… “I want to empty my tank, leave nothing in the bank until they lay me in the ground… but I’ve got too much to do for just one life and baby I can sleep when I die.” It could be construed as a very egotistical sort of song but it doesn’t come across that way in the least –‘ Livin’ It Up’ isn’t about living for yourself before you die, but living to the best of what you can be… for yourself but also for others.
‘You and Me’ is a perfect choice to follow the previous song and is written by Pritchett and Wide Mouth Mason’s Shaun Verreault. It’s a tender love song of a man who’s come to some hard conclusions about his life and ‘a full wallet but empty soul’ – the first time (and each time) I heard it, it seems that it should be called ‘Me and You’ – to my ears it would sound better phonetically (in the chorus) but I love that the sentiment of the song stays intact with the singer/writer putting his lover first and himself second. I absolutely love this song.
From tender (but uptempo) love songs we shift gears just a little and are back into purely country flavor with ‘Worth The Wait’. A decent song that will go over well live, but not one of my favorites.
“Just give me a pinch!” Purely Pritchett all the way. An idea that percolated for years before being written into a solid song, ‘Pinch’ is already a crowd pleaser at live shows… this song sounded fantastic acoustic with just Pritchett on guitar and vocals – sounds even better with background vocals, Hammond organ and drums.
A party song with a humorous message, ‘Morning After the Night Before’ is tongue in cheek, playful, funny, and I can well see cowboy hatted men waltzing or two-stepping with their girlfriends around the dance floor with this one. The strings and electric guitar in the bridge compliment the tone of this tune to perfection, and I can well imagine Pritchett with a huge grin on his face while singing this one.
‘Hold my Beer’ became an anthem of sorts a few years back, but ‘Wild On’ is going to become a FAN anthem in short time. “Yeah we just want to rock and roll with you, that’s why we do what we do… Hey hey on your feet hands in the air screamin’ like you want to…. All y’all blowin’ my mind singing every song line for line.” – Aaron has paid his fans a collective tribute in writing this song and it’s going to have every fan going off the rails when they hear it live for the first time. Get ready for the mayhem Mr P!
The closer to the album, ‘I Want To Be In It With You’ leaves the listener smiling and feeling warm and loved, and to me it is the perfect ending. The title was suggested by Pritchett’s youngest son and so the song was written around the idea – musician and good friend Mike Norman added his mark on the song with a string arrangement that compliments the song without making it over the top or too sentimental… and passed away shortly after recording that arrangement. The song is dedicated to Mike, and is beautiful, sentimental, and memorable.
All in all, this album is fabulous. No fillers, more than a few songs should make it to radio singles, and there is something for any mood – party down, plug it in at an intimate dinner party, listen to it on your ipod . It works for all listening experiences. This is Pritchett’s best work; the love and care that went into writing and recording the album is blatantly apparent. Even the liner notes are full bodied with attention to detail – I’ve never seen an artist strive to credit all those involved, so thoroughly before, and it’s a pleasure to see a group effort acknowledged – as Pritchett stated in one interview; it takes a whole lot of people and talent to craft a work of art. And this is a work of art.
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