We forgot about this guy. He came out with the heartbreaking song "Alyssa Lies," not a song you buy an album for because it's far too sad, but you appreciate the truth in the tragedy. This Cracker Barrel album is a reminder of the talent of this guy. It sounds a lot like an audition tape. He pulls no stops trying to get every sound that he can possibly do into these twelve songs.
The first track feels kinda long, especially when the last line is drawn out messily. The title track is Chris Cagle-Cute. It would make a great music video, with highways and signs flashing by. It would be a nice radio play but not a long-lasting one. "Meet Me in the Barn" is a rougher, rocking country, in the style of Jason Aldean's "My Kinda Party" and Craig Morgan's "Bonfire" with a nice little sexy lady dropping in for a brief little interlude and background at the end.
Probably the best song and the one that stands out on its own the best is "Hell and Hallelujah." I have gone back and forth on this album, trying to decide if it's good enough for me to even sit down and write a review of it, and this song keeps coming to my head and reminding me that if nothing else, this song is really solid. It's on my playlist. The problem with these Cracker Barrel albums is that there is no hurry. You aren't going to hear most of these guys on the radio any time soon. That's a real shame. The radio is missing out on this song and a few more from this album.
"Can I Get an Amen" is very Montgomery Gentry. It also gives a nice loud opinion, in the Eric Church style. It has too much background distraction in the way of voices. It would sound much nicer without all of that.
"My Favorite" is nice and topically Brad Paisley and old Clay Walker. The sound is homey and comfy without being offensively so. I think I would like to hear it in acoustic. We're probably missing a lot of talent by not hearing it with just his voice and nothing to mess with it, like Chris Young's "Voices." I heard him sing it live on Sirius a few months ago. That's some beautiful singing there. He doesn't need the background stuff to make his voice sound nice. The tonal and pitch changes in "My Favorite" would suit well to the same, and The Highway would do well to put this song on the radio live.
"I Don't Know Why I Don't" is an interesting mix between Darius Rucker, Jason Aldean, and Chris Young. The background defies modern rock-country with its mid-nineties sounds. It's familiar and endearing. Remember the first time you heard Zac Brown Band's "Whatever it Is"? In the way that song grew on you and you discovered yourself loving and singing along with it after only two listens, the first time finding yourself uncomfortable, ever after adoring it. That's what happens.
"Stray" exhibits the robust flavor of JMC. You get your hints of Josh Turner low.
When "Last Word" strikes up, you think you accidentally turned on Taylor Swift. Then his voice comes on and reminds you of his masculinity and you hear in it "Livin' Our Love Song" and wonder where he's been. Jason Michael Carroll an old friend you'd love to welcome home.
The album closes with "Alyssa Lies." If you don't already know this song, it is about a little girl who lies to everybody about being abused at home, and it ends badly. It was put out to raise awareness of child abuse. Honestly, once was enough for me. There is no subtlety like Martina McBride's "Concrete Angel" and "Broken Wing." I think the idea is good, but you really can't sit down and listen to this song more than once. JMC puts on a beautiful show with it, however, rounding out the album on a very depressing note. I think the album could have done much better without it.