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article imageReview: Jon Pardi's new album invites us to enjoy the California Sunrise

By Adrian Peel     Jun 17, 2016 in Music
The 31-year-old Californian deservedly received plaudits for his outstanding debut, 'Write You a Song,' in 2014. Now he's back with 'California Sunrise,' the much-anticipated follow-up. Digital Journal gave it a listen.
In my humble opinion, Jon Pardi walks that line between modern and traditional country better than almost anyone else and, although he writes brilliant songs, what really does it for me is that voice of his - an infectious twang that has the power to make even less-than-average songs sound great.
Not that he has too many average tunes in his repertoire, of course, and even a supposed 'throwaway' collection of b-sides released last year was terrific. Pardi even manages to emerge with credibility when tackling the done-to-death themes of the day - beer, tailgates, dirt roads, etc. - and there's not many artists one can say that about.
The opening track on the new record is the mid-tempo "Out of Style." At five minutes and six seconds it's a bit overlong, but the lyrics tell the interesting story of some professional advice Pardi received related to songwriting and artistry when he first rocked up to Nashville.
"Cowboy Hat" is a sunnier number - with some lovely fiddle - and leads nicely into "Head Over Boots," already a 'feelgood' classic and for me the best mainstream country song of the year so far.
The first slowed down moment comes in the form of "Can't Turn You Down" and it's another winner, that soulful voice once again coming up trumps. "Dirt on My Boots" could be described as a 'contemporary swamp rock number' and features another hummable chorus and some soaring electric guitar.
"She Ain't in It" is a truly gorgeous slice of traditional country up there with the artist's best work. "All Time high," though it includes some steel guitar, is a bit 'shouty' on the chorus, while "Heartache on the Dance Floor" is insanely catchy.
There are a couple of rather loud and 'in your face' moments on here, which are probably needed to ensure mammoth sales among teenagers, but overall this album carries enough warmth, charm, invention and variety to ensure a place on many critics' Top 10 Album of the Year lists come December. I've no doubt it will be on mine.
California Sunrise is out now on Capitol Nashville Records.
For more information on Jon Pardi, visit his official website or his official Facebook page.
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