ALBUM REVIEW: Jimmie Allen – “Bettie James (Gold Edition)”

Bettie James Gold Edition

Jimmie Allen has released the Gold Edition of his Bettie James EP, and it’s every bit as varied as you’d expect from a guy at the forefront of the vanguard of ‘new country’, featuring collaborations with the likes of rappers Nelly and Pitbull, little known EDM duo teamwork., R&B legend Babyface, Christian pop-rock artist Tauren Wells and former Slovakian grunge-metal-but-now-country duo Neon Union, along with country artists such as LANCO, Keith Urban and Little Big Town.

It’s a heady mix, and one which may not go down well with traditional country fans, but Jimmie Allen has always been about pushing boundaries and blurring genre lines, and if you’re listening to this album you probably know that already, especially as you’ll almost certainly be familiar with the original Bettie James EP. This extended edition has all the original tracks but includes an additional 9 songs.

We’re introduced to the collection with Get Country – a Brad Paisley Telecaster-sounding FGL-esque feel-good summer jam – think ‘Here’s To The Good Times’ and you’re in the same ball park. Country staples abound in the shape of George Jones, back roads, mud, bonfires, cold ones and fishing, and it’s a great way to ease country fans in. It’s followed up with another up-tempo country track – a collaboration with LANCO in the form of Home Sweet Hometown. 

We then move onto a track I think will be heard across beaches and nightclubs the world over – a Cuban beat-inspired early-evening-cruise-down-the-Miami-strip-in-a-drop-top-sports-car-and-the-radio-on-full type of song. Flavor is a tremendously fun track, with Jimmie and Pitbull taking it in turns to step up to the mic along with Cuban singer Vikina. 

Somebody is a similarly lively track, albeit slightly more laid back with the vocal talents of Breland and Lathan Warlick on display. This is the 2am ‘start to wind down’ cousin to the 10pm ‘ramp it up’ of Flavor, and is placed well in the track listing coming straight after it. Tequila Talkin’ has a similar vibe, the second song on the album that features teamwork., this time alongside Lindsay Ell. 

Little Big Town and Monica lend their harmonies on Pray – a beautiful stripped back song about faith and what it means to each of us. Church choirs never sounded so good. And speaking of never sounding so good,  Boy Gets A Truck gets the third outing of its career, with both previous artists coming together to combine their powers and produce the ultimate Power Ranger version of the song. 

Livin’ Man is my favourite song on the album, a soaring uplifting feel good anthem. Alongside Neon Union, Jimmie sings about lifes struggles and leaving them all behind on the open road. I defy anyone not to turn it up and sing along. It’s catchy as hell.  

The last new song on the album is Forever – a song with vocal harmonies not heard since Boys II Men and The Backstreet Boys strode across the 90’s musical landscape like gods, infiltrating every ear they could find. And I mean that in a good way. 

The rest of the album is made up of the songs on the original Bettie James EP, but it’s these new tracks which really elevate the collection to the next level. If you’re a music lover, it’s got something for everyone. If, however, you’re purely a country music devotee, it may not be to your taste, but there’s definitely enough in there to give it a chance.

Ben Pinsent

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