Album Review: Jana Kramer - Jana Kramer
By: Matt Bjorke
In the past five years there has been a little strange quirk of the country music industry. There haven't been any new female artists getting a real shot at breaking into the Top 10 who had a hair color other than blonde. There have been duos and trios which found success with brunettes or redheads but nobody outside of Ashton Shepherd to come close (She scored a pair of Top 20 singles). In fact, the last real non-blonde solo female artist to break through was Gretchen Wilson, the Redneck Woman herself.
So, it's with great pleasure that I can announce the arrival of a woman who should be able to break the seemingly arbitrary 'glass ceiling' in country music; Jana Kramer. While she's a beautiful brunette, Jana adds a potent vocal and burgeoning songwriting talent on top of her model looks. It's a potent package that certainly should find Kramer plenty of female and male fans alike.
Her debut single "Why Ya Wanna" finds the Michigan native showcasing a surprising twang that effortlessly flows as she sings about the guy she's still not quite over. It's a charming feature to her voice that appears on every song so it's not as if she's 'faking' the twang. "Good Time Comin' On" leads off the record and finds Jana mixing a traditional country melody that has her voice sounding like a unique blend of Ashton Shepherd and Hillary Scott from Lady Antebellum. It's a fun tune that could be a potential country radio smash sometime in 2013 (as a spring/summer song perhaps).
The mandolin parts of "I Hope It Rains" kind of remind me of "Baba O'Reilly" while the rest of the song uses some pop rock power chords in the melody but Jana sings the lyrics in a matter which make the single a clear modern country pop song while "Goodbye California" finds Jana perfectly happy to have given up the 'glamourous life' of a Los Angeles actress for her country music career and life in the south (Nashville). Two other tempo-filled tracks which clearly standout are "King of Apology" and "What I Love About Your Love."
"Whiskey" and "Good As When You're Bad" stand out as the best ballads on the record but in all honesty, this record falls right in line with quite a few of the new artist releases in 2012 thus far. In fact, we think this record is one of the 12 best albums I've heard in the year through the first of June.
Jana Kramer had a lot riding against her in Nashville, one thing being her career as an actress on One Tree Hill but if this record proves anything, it's that she's serious about being a country star and as a 20-something female, she is singing to the mainstream's #1 demographic and fans should find something to easily relate to on this record. I cannot recommend this one enough.