Country Jukebox Jury EPs: Manny Blu, Kameron Marlowe and Easton Corbin

Manny Blu – New Ink

With Ramones-like speed, this EP contains five tracks and is over inside 15 minutes. The easy comparison is with Jason Aldean, both in delivery and thematics. Burnout Town has a powered-up chorus and an invitation to ‘kiss me baby’, while Born To Ride is more middle of the dirt road and very contemporary.

Both Ain’t Got You and Sink are excellent drinking songs which help Manny forget his ex. There’s funk and soul and great vocals, and an awesome solo in the middle of the former.

Old Money mentions ‘summer in the Hamptons’ and is a mid-tempo rock song where Manny sounds like Morgan Wallen. Morgan is a major-label star with a 30-track album on the way; Manny, an indie act, is just as good. 4/5

Kameron Marlowe – Kameron Marlowe

Kameron Marlowe’s EP is produced by Brad Hill, who helped Maren Morris find her sound. Kameron is another TV star who popped up on The Voice after he was spotted on Youtube. He sang a song by fellow North Carolina musician Luke Combs.

The EP begins with his smash Giving You Up, written in the aftermath of a bad breakup and which has 27m plays on Spotify. Listeners appreciate his country croon and his way with a melody. With a lyric about giving up a woman just like giving up whiskey or tobacco, it sounds like a number one hit and I expect more people will hear this song in 2021. Will he follow other Voice graduates Danielle Bradbery and Trent Harmon onto big stages?

Sober as a Drunk is a very contemporary track with some fast-paced lyrics in the chorus where Kameron is ‘high as rock bottom’. The vocal is excellent, as you would expect from someone who turned the chairs of Kelly and Blake before he even got to the bridge of One Number Away.

Goin’ There Today opens with Kameron declining an invitation to a café because ‘I don’t feel like goin there today’. It turns out that he would see her former girlfriend there. Singing Marina Del Rey reminds him of her too. It’s a bit slender as a song but it sounds great.

Burn Em All is a slow chugger about going out and setting the night on fire. Hungover is the result of that entertainment, sung like a younger Chris Stapleton. Likewise Leavin To Me, which is the best song on the EP, with washes of steel guitar behind Kameron’s pained narrator pleading his beloved to break everything he has since she broke his heart too. 4/5

Easton Corbin – Didn’t Miss A Beat

I first heard Easton Corbin in 2015, when his song Yup was on the charts. I went back to the chirpy Loving You Is Fun from 2012 which followed a pair of number ones: A Little More Country Than That and Roll With It. The former was nominated for CMA Single of the Year in 2010 but lost out to Need You Now. Easton was one of those hot sexy guys who was and is very attractive. He also earned good money from allowing his song Are You With Me to be remixed by Lost Frequencies which went all the way to number one in Germany, the UK and Australia. That, and a tour with Carrie Underwood, didn’t stop him leaving Mercury Records in 2018 and he is now independent.

Turn Up, which namechecks Conway Twitty and is a goodtime jam, while the funky title track is a pretty good meet-cute. Back To Me is a lament which opens the door to a departed flame; conversely, the door is closed because Old Lovers Don’t Make Good Friends, which chugs along pleasantly in the middle of the dirt road accompanied by four bars of squealing guitar in the middle.

Before You Wish You Had is the obligatory carpe diem song that every artist must write once in their career, though Easton’s version is pretty and understated. The EP closes with Here’s to the Next One which may be a coded message to Mercury Records or just a self-effacing song about learning to fail better in love. Six fine songs which bring Easton back into the conversation. He’ll keep his old fans and may earn two or three with this. 3/5.

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