Jack Rowdy - Jack Rowdy 

With red dirt, pop, ballads, gospel and hot country all receiving attention, it’s easy to see that Jack Rowdy (an Oklahoma City band, not a man) has studied up.

Far from being a radio pastiche, Jack Rowdy infuses each of its tunes with enough muscle from the self-stated “classic rock and ’80s hair metal” influences to set the act apart from the pack.

Not that this is outlaw country; Jack Rowdy doesn’t stray far from timeworn themes of whiskey, women and regrets. But by often employing a rock-inspired, distorted-guitar tone (“Hot Little Cowgirl” excepted), it skips many of the clichés associated with modern country. The vocals also stand out for their clarity and agreeableness — no whiny yelps here.

Highlights include the stellar lyrics and melody of pop song “I Can Love You” and up-tempo rocker “Better Love Someday.” And as hot country songs go, “Hot Little Cowgirl” ain’t no slouch, as it has a solid melody and doesn’t insert any grandiose, overblown touches.

Jack Rowdy’s debut is still strongly a country album; those opposed to modern country as a whole need not apply. But those pining for some tunes with a little more power than Rascal Flatts or Toby Keith will find much to love.

—Stephen Carradini

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