In country music it’s easy to point to country pop as the most divisive sub-genre under the genre’s big tent of sounds. Not to be confused with pop country, which simply refers to what gets played on the radio. But people tend to forget country pop has contributed a ton of great music over the years (Dolly and Garth come to mind). In today’s country scene I’ve found Kelleigh Bannen to be one of the best at pulling this style off along with Cam and Little Big Town. I particularly enjoyed her Cheap Sunglasses EP from a few years ago and a recommended starting point for fans new to her music. She’s now back though with some more new music, a small set of three new songs, and the centerpiece being “The Joneses.”
The song immediately greets you with some catchy guitar riffing, hooking you right in. We then get to the song, which is about the never-ending rat race to keep up with “the Joneses” of the world. But instead of being like everybody else trying to keep up with the supposed haves of the world, Bannen and company choose to instead just live in the moment and stay in their own lane. The message is be yourself and mind your own. It’s a timely song with a great message needed in a time when too many are obsessed with the vanity of celebrity and social media. Not to mention the hook of this song is an absolute ear-worm.
The three-song set opener “John Who” is a song full of swagger and tinges of R&B and pop. The song explores a woman going through a break-up with a guy she thought was a gem, but turned out to be not who he portrayed himself to be. Now she’s looking for a new guy that makes her forget the ex so much she doesn’t even know his last name. It’s a breakup anthem that’s simultaneously full of confidence and self-doubt that has a great sing-a-long quality about it. The third song is “Happy Birthday,” which is about a woman using a birthday as an excuse to call up an old ex and remind him of her. It’s a soulful ballad centered on regret in more ways than one from the phone call to why the relationship ultimately ended. The woman eventually comes to realize, too late, “I can’t have my cake and love you too.”
Kelleigh Bannen once again delivers with this great set of singles. She continues to prove why she’s one of the best today at pulling off the country pop sound, crafting catchy hooks with meaningful lyricism.