By now most of you reading this have heard Jerrod Niemann’s take on the Sonia Dada hit from 1992, “You Don’t Treat Me No Good.” It was a mild stroke of genius to not only release it but to release it with the more memorable title of “Lover, Lover.” The success of this single set the stage for Jerrod to release Judge Jerrod & the Hung Jury.
In our interview with Jerrod, he discussed how the inspiration for recording Judge Jerrod & the Hung Jury was given to him by Traler Park buddy Jamey Johnson after Jamey himself recorded That Lonesome Song with his band and without assistance from a record label. Working with friend and co-producer Dave Brainard, Jerrod set about recording the best album he could possibly record. The album features 12 tracks all but two of ‘em co-written by Jerrod Niemann himself. In addition to the 12 tracks are 8 “skits” which showcase Jerrod’s humor and were meant to be nothing more than “extra entertainment” and in the case of the other song Jerrod didn’t write on the album, the ‘skit’ is to showcase who wrote and originally recorded “The Buckin’ Song,” tlegendary Texas music artist Robert Earl Keen.
“They Should’ve Named You Cocaine” opens the album with a laid-back classic country feel and it instantly shows off Jerrod’s traditionalist leanings. It also shows people who might’ve thought of Jerrod Niemann as some sort of pop-leaning artist that he does have traditional country music in his DNA, and as you’ll find out when listening to the album, it crops up more than once. The previously mentioned “Lover, Lover” is next and rather than introduce it with one of the skits, Jerrod simply sings the tune, which was Top 10 on the various single sales charts the week of release. After an introductory skit Jerrod tackles the beach-y “Down In Mexico.” While this theme has been done ‘to death’ by many artists recently, Jerrod’s own take of the theme is a clever and unique way to describe the euphoric feeling of being in Mexico by saying “Can you really be down in Mexico?”
With a slowly building intro, “What Do You Want” tells an interesting story where Jerrod asks an old flame why she keeps calling him to check up on him or to use him as a ‘booty call.’ It’s a smart way, like “Down in Mexico” to tell a ‘we can’t keep doing this, it’s killing me’ kind of song. “The Buckin’ Song” is fun and that’s the exact point of its placement on the album. “Old School New Again” is a tune that touches on the traditionalist themes both melodically and vocally. It’s a personal tune in which Jerrod proclaims that he cannot possibly sing songs any other way than he does and says ‘wouldn’t it be cool if we made ‘old school new again.’ It’s a Garth-like nod to keeping traditional country music alive while also knowing things evolve. In fact, the tune references “Good Ride Cowboy” in the final lines of the song. Jerrod co-wrote it for ‘a cowboy who lost a friend…wrote a song about him…(and) made old school new again.’
“Come Back To Me” is a slow jam that wouldn’t be outta place on an Usher record and it serves to remind me that Jerrod Niemann may be a traditionalist at heart but he can make an interesting slice of adult R&B-inspired tunes. As if being ready for the skeptics, Jerrod has a skit with “that ain’t country music’ before jumping into a John Anderson co-written tune that flat out recalls the classic hits of Anderson. “How Can I Be So Thirsty” is a two-steppin’ honky tonk dance hall-ready tune that would’ve been a big hit in the 90s and it’s possibly it could be again once Jerrod and friends continue to make “Old School New Again.” Bakersfield is a sweet mid-tempo ballad that chronicles a weekend relationship while the intro to “One More Drinkin’ Song” playfully plays on ‘target demographics’ and their desire to not hear one more drinkin’ song. Sharply written, the tune works great as a concert-ready sing-a-long and I’d be surprised if Jerrod didn’t properly release this one sometime in the future (it was tested and hit #60 on Billboard before “Lover, Lover” got released).
With a beautiful cello intro, “I Hope You Get What You Deserve” rivals “Lover, Lover” and “What Do You Want” as the most radio-ready tune on the record. It’s a gentler take on the same theme that Jaron and the Long Road to Love’s “Pray For You” touches on. “For Everclear” is a tune that chronicles a fun-lovin’ bunch of college students who learn in a ‘night class’ that we live all year. The song is light and fun and while not every song on Judge Jerrod & The Hung Jury is light, they are very fun.
Jerrod Niemann may not be the ‘outlaw’ that his buddy Jamey Johnson is but he did take the ‘outlaw’ approach to making Judge Jerrod & The Hung Jury. He recorded songs he loved and believed in and the fruits of this labor are paying off. If we were forced to compare the album and Jerrod Niemann with anyone, Garth Brooks seems an apt comparison because Jerrod seems to have followed a template of singing songs with multiple pieces of other genres while never straying far from his core, traditionalist base. Judge Jerrod & The Hung Jury is one of the most creative and fun albums to come out in 2010 and it should actually help Jerrod with his quest to make “Old School New Again.”You can support Jerrod Niemann by purchasing this album at Amazon | iTunes. Ref: Roughstock.com