REVIEW: Chris Lane – ‘Girl Problems’

13920864_1174606152612843_8507105152506530954_nIn November 2015 we reviewed Chris Lane’s EP ‘Fix’ which had just been released to radio. The general consensus was that the 6 songs on offer were extremely catchy but were not remotely country.

9 months later, ‘Fix’ is the most-played song on US country radio and Lane is the definite ‘flavour of the month’. He is the first act to be signed by Big Loud Records in Nashville. They only have two artists on their roster. If they promote Morgan Wallen as well as they have promoted Chris Lane then we should look out for Wallen’s output in the spring of 2017. It seems to take an age for anything to crawl up the country charts these days.

Radio loves ‘Fix’. There won’t be an hour when it isn’t played. We remain of the opinion that it isn’t remotely country but what do we know?

It’s also attracted considerable criticism in some quarters for its blatent drug-related lyrics but you know the general response – what the hell, it sounds good so who cares about any of that?

“with that good-ish, that long trip, that sugar on your lips. That favourite habit, gotta have it, you can’t quit. I got your fix”.

We now have the album that will probably shape Lane’s career. Four of six tracks that appeared on the earlier EP appear here.

All of the 12 tracks that appear on the album have been written by writers other than Lane but this not intended as a criticism. George Strait was not noted for his song writing abilities and to be fair to Lane his debut album was self-penned and it led to him getting his record deal.

This is where the similarities with George Strait end!

Let’s start off by saying that this album is well produced, the songs are decent and Lane does a very good job vocally. He has had a remarkable year for a relatively new artist and has broken through into the mainstream sector dominated by the likes of Sam Hunt and Thomas Rhett.

However, there is a ‘but’ coming. You expected that.

Does an album that includes a Mario song ‘Let Me Love You’ featuring a banjo really qualify as a country record?

The banjo makes regular appearances alongside synth drum beats and R&B falsetto vocals that we heard on Backstreet Boys albums in the 90’s.

‘All The Time’ could have been on a NSYNC album. Maybe Timberlake could do a country album without changing his style too much.

The press release suggests that the album “marries Lane’s unique voice with a diverse range of musical influences”. He includes Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw and Alan Jackson amongst those influences. We guess they got lost in the mix.

Lane, to his credit, or perhaps his label’s credit, is savvy enough to know that he is pushing on an open door as far as the mainstream country sound is concerned.

There is more than enough to keep the hits flowing on this album. ‘For Her’ is likely to be the follow up to ‘Fix’ and it will be another huge money spinner.

Country radio could select about 7 or 8 of these songs, play them a couple of times and they would take off.   The dots have all been joined and Lane is set to follow Hunt onto the country music bandwagon. If this is what floats your boat you won’t find a better album.

The somewhat depressing aspect to all of this is that this album will probably out-sell Cody Jinks’ recent country music masterpiece by about ten to one.