Rising star Travis Denning is no stranger to the UK nowadays. After lighting up the CMA Songwriters Series last year at The O2, Travis returned to the UK in October for the ‘Introducing Nashville’ tour, and since then his stock has risen considerably across the pond. ‘After A Few’ currently sits in the Top 5 on US Country Radio, and it seems Mercury Nashville are really beginning to push Travis towards the forefront of their roster. His new six-track EP, ‘Beer’s Better Cold’, is out now, and it’s full of top quality, radio-ready tracks that stand him in very good stead.
Produced by the hugely experienced Jeremy Stover, and including co-writes with the likes of Rhett Akins, Scooter Carusoe and Nathan Spicer, it’s firmly rooted in the premier league of the country echelons. From the tongue-in-cheek ‘ABBY’ to the redneck anthem ‘Where That Beer’s Been’, it’s categorically Travis Denning and epitomises everything he wants to achieve with his sound and subject matter. In many ways, you could compare his trajectory with that of Luke Combs, in the sense that he’s very tuned in to what his fans appreciate, and there’s a real grassroots, organic feel to what he’s doing right now.
‘Where That Beer’s Been’ is a silly, hilarious drinking tune which does exactly what it says on the tin, with the oh-so-catchy hook line, “I don’t know where that beer’s been but I know where it’s going”. It’s tailor-made for a good old summer time tailgate party with red solo cups and just about every country stereotype you can think of. It’s unapologetically redneck and kicks off the EP with an injection of fun and energy that will suit his live shows to a tee.
Next up is the anchor track for the EP, ‘After A Few’, which is deservedly doing incredibly well. Its driving backbeat, soaring electric guitars and Travis’ gravelly vocal delivery result in an easily-pleasing radio smash, and this sums up the aforementioned sound that Travis needs to nail down as his own. Lyrically strong and very slick production-wise, it just works so well.
‘After A Few’ is one of three tracks that were already released from the EP, alongside ‘Tank Of Gas and a Radio Song’ and ‘ABBY’. ‘Tank Of Gas…’ is another one with great radio potential; full of depth to cleverly counteract its generic title, and a great atmospheric feel. Certainly an immediate go-to from this collection, it deserves its moment in the spotlight as a single release. ‘ABBY’, intrerstingly the only track on the EP that Travis didn’t have a hand in writing, is a really quirky little track with a ‘F*** You’ attitude towards a break-up – “Now you wanna know if there’s somebody else… her name is ABBY, that’s Any Body But You.” A very cool twist on a familiar topic, and a huge singalong-inducer for the live shows.
Title track ‘Beer’s Better Cold’ is the big stand-out on the EP. Although a tried-and-tested topic lyrically, its lovely flowing melody leading into a big chorus is loveable right from the first listen. It’s a classy piece of work from Scooter Carusoe, Travis Denning, Cole Taylor, and will no doubt become a big fan favourite very quickly. Although filled with regret and sadness, there’s also a warm sense of acceptance and a willingness to move on. More of this please, Travis!
‘Sittin’ By A Fire’ leaves us with a curveball, switching the sound to a much more traditional-leaning, laid-back vibe. Written with Rhett Akins and producer Jeremy Stover, it showcases the much more reflective, gentler side to Travis’ music, something which he told us he’d like to explore more moving forward. “It’s something I just haven’t touched on yet in my career. I’m excited for people to hear that one because I think they’ll be interested in hearing more of that, and there is a lot more of that side that you’ll be hearing in the future”. It’s experimental, but in a very positive way.
All in all, this is a mighty fine EP from one of country music’s most promising rising artists and songwriters. Any one of these songs has the potential to be a radio hit, and if that quality remains consistent, the future will be very bright for Travis Denning. Nothing too out-of-the-box, nothing that will alienate the fans. Just good, easy-listening country music, and there isn’t a lot more we can ask for.
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