Country Jukebox Jury EPs: Jordan Rowe and Kolby Cooper

Jordan Rowe – Bad Case of the Good Ole Boy

Jordan is introduced to market as an ‘If you like Morgan Wallen and Luke Combs, you’ll love this’ with an eight-track album. It opens with two bars of fiddle and Jordan intoning the EP’s title Bad Case of the Good Ole Boy. He drives a truck, goes fishing and sounds like a good ole boy with his clear, syncopated vocals and real drums surrounding them.

Can’t In A Car begins with a spoken verse which recalls Blake Shelton’s best work and, as if knowing people would get the reference, mentions the ‘boys round here’: ‘One you go truck you never go back’ is a t-shirt slogan. The Warren brothers were on hand to help Jordan write The Good Ones Do, a list of situations where not every girl/mama/friend comes up to scratch. The chorus is superb, as is the one on I Didn’t Sleep Last Night, where the hook comes from the fiddle. It is so refreshing (even if it feels like a trend) to hear fiddle on mainstream country releases.

There are two duets here: Who Needs You (‘I do’) has Ashland Craft playing the part of the woman Jordan’s pining for, while top 10 recording artist Lainey Wilson co-wrote the gorgeous Mama Ain’t Jesus (‘but she’s a close second’). I do wonder if the album is calibrated to hit all the country beats – trucks, heartbreak, baseball (as on Had a Ball, which reminds me of Eric Church and Luke Bryan simultaneously), true love, mama – but then why complain when this IS what country music should be.

There is also an orgy, as I call it, as Rhett Akins, Eddie Montgomery and Tracy Lawrence join Jordan on 10-4, which brings some banjo into the intro before Jordan sings a first verse that seems to pun ‘ten (beers) for’ with the police call of the title. It’s good fun and a great way to connect Jordan with the men who were big before the era of the Bro. This is why Morgan Wallen is too big to fail: even if you drop a horrible word, the industry needs you to succeed so the likes of Jordan Rowe can have a career too.

Kolby Cooper is a boy from Anderson County, and thus he has called his new EP that. He’s written all six of the tracks, which he sings with a Luke Combs-like burr, and he comes to the major-label market after impressive numbers from his independent EPs and an album. With Dillon Carmichael also fighting for our attention, the post-Combs breed of hefty blokes with their heart of their sleeves shows no signs of slowing down.

Jacob Davis was in the room for Her Favorite Songs, which is a smart song about how ‘the joke’s on you’ because Kolby’s songs delight the woman but not the man she lives with, who used to tease Kolby and now has to watch his old nemesis be successful.

Good For You is a singalong breakup jam which Kolby co-wrote with Jameson Rodgers. The production is 100% Jason Aldean – apt as he is signed to Broken Bow Records like Jason – and it’s radio-friendly. Ditto Excuses, where ‘deep down we both know the truth is these are just excuses’ for ending a relationship, and Way To Go, where the narrator has ‘bloodshot eyes’ thanks to his drinking.

I like the celebratory groove of This Song Don’t Make No Sense, a song about songwriting where, given the death of a relationship, ‘you plus me just didn’t add up’. The EP’s title track is a hymn to the girl who was ‘put on earth for this old boy to love her’, which does remind me of Luke Combs a lot. He can’t help it.

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