Out on the Spend a Buck label, the debut album from Adam Sanders is like Jason Aldean if he’s told to turn his amps down a bit, or Luke Bryan if he turns his amps up. Adam’s success as a songwriter comes from a pair of smashes: Ain’t Worth the Whisky for Cole Swindell and Hell of a Night for Dustin Lynch. As with many writers, he has stepped up to launch a solo career which should bring him the same success as Cole and Dustin, in a fair and just world.
The album What If I’m Right opens with All About That, which is country as the day is long and kicks off 13 tracks of solid contemporary country sung in a high tenor voice. There are echoes of Luke Bryan in Just Need One and of Jason Aldean in both the toe-tapping title track and So Good At That, where he wonders why his ex is making it tough for him to move on. Burn The Stars is an impressive power ballad with a lovely image where the stars are like candles, burning to the end of its life. I also love the rhyme of ‘hallelujah/ pull me to ya’ on Good Way To Go.
Adam writes all 13 tracks on this album, with some A-List help on My Kinda People: the superstar A-List team of Jessi Alexander, Will Weatherly and Cary Barlowe, who wrote the fast riser Famous Friends and is probably reaping his investments from the proceeds of American Honey. My Kinda People is instantly poppy and mixes pedal steel and dobro with guitar and drum loops, over which Adam sings of a clash between rural and urban. ‘A y’all in your drawl…dirt under your nails…whiskey in a glass’ and that’s country bingo!
The underrated songwriter Adam Craig helps out another Adam on Make Em Wanna Change, the pre-released smash from the album that praises the ability of a woman to put a man on the right path. It’s a shame that Blake Shelton stole Adam’s thunder by pre-releasing his track Bible Verses. Adam’s tune Bible Versus uses the same play on words as Adam pits church against the bar; the Bible gets a namecheck in Daddy Jesus Earnhardt, ‘from Talladega all the way to Daytona’.
Do What We Do, which was my introduction to Adam, is a country boy’s hymn to rural life, while the pretty I Got Roots is a morose breakup song where Adam finds comfort in the land. This is country music for rural folk which should also gain an audience abroad as an authentic representation of the American South.