I will try to put down into words what I think and feel about the album as a whole, as well as for the songs individually. Remember, these are all my personal thoughts and feelings. If you agree with me, or disagree, I would love to hear your thoughts and feelings too. Please comment on it to help readers that have not yet heard the album get an idea of what to expect. Music is personal, we all experience every song based on our own lives and backgrounds. What speaks to me in one way might speak to you in a completely different way, so let's all share with each other.
I will review the Deluxe Version as, in my opinion, there is no point in getting the Regular because you'll just end up wanting more anyway - just go straight for the best choice - or buy both. Some of the additional tracks you will be able to buy as singles, but not all of them. And trust me when I say that you will want all of them.
Sometimes when you have waited for something with such intensity and eagerness as I've been waiting for this album you can get disappointed. You build up a mountain of expectations that is hard to climb. This is not one of those times. This album fulfills my hopes and dreams about it - and then some. From the first note it makes me want to keep listening. It makes me smile, laugh and tear up. It makes me want to dance and it makes want to sit in silence and be grateful for everything I've got in my life. The last note leaves me wanting more of everything, and it makes me feel peaceful, all at once. This album climbed the mountain and kept going into space.
The album is a perfect mix of old classic and iconic country songs and new up-beat, modern sounding country songs. It's got guest appearances by country music legends and even by a violin (in one song only). There are worn-out songs (because they are so great that we've heard them close to too many times) given a fresh, new and exciting sound, and, maybe most importantly, it's got some Home Free originals that leaves us wanting even more originals. This album comes with so many emotions the experience of listening to it lifts you up and puts you on the moon, with a perfect view of both the sun and the earth.
The use of vocal skills on this album is somewhat hard to comprehend - and it makes it intriguing and elusive, like something I want to catch -and Home Free kicks it so far out of the park there is no bringing it back, this album is not only Country Evolution, it is music revolution. It is a new, fresh and interesting way of making music, of loving music. I can almost feel the world starting to rumble with excitement.
As always when it comes to Home Free's songs I can't single out one single favourite, but I will tell you that there are more than one track off this album that I believe will change how the world looks upon both a cappella music and country music. At least that's my dream for it, and my dreams tend to come true so I'll just keep it up until it is.
Now, on to the individual tracks on this album;
1. Summer In The Country - Home Free original written by Mark Nessler - this is a fun and up-beat country song that makes me want to hang out with my friends and family on that perfect summer's day; playing games, sitting around the fire,while singing, having a beer and feel the love in the air. It brings back childhood and youth memories and feelings of ease and joy in the sunshine at my grandparents summer house, or camping with either family or friends. Good times that are nice to remember. It is feeling of happiness.
2. Good Ol' Country Harmony - written by Home Free's own Tim Foust - a song about songs with good ol' country harmony - and of course this is a song full of exactly that. One might even say it is a song about all the other songs on this album, even though some of them are new and not old, because this whole album is filled to the brim with country harmony, and this song is almost spilling over with it. It makes me want to line dance and sing-along in joy.
3. 9 to 5 - Dolly Parton cover - this is a song I was very excited to hear what they would do with as it might be one of the most well-known songs in the western world, at least for people above the age of 30. In my opinion it is a hard task to make something new and exciting out of it; a lot of artists have tried and I have not heard one that succeeded - until now that is. Rob's soulful voice works so well with Adam's funky r&b beat, then add Austin's high notes, Tim's bass and Chris' perfectly blended harmonies and it would have been excellent. However, for these Guys it wasn't enough; they added a breakdown that takes the song to a whole different level of a cappella awesomeness. This song is part of the reason the album left the mountain aiming for the infinite space.
4. Elvira - Oak Ridge Boys cover featuring the Oak Ridge Boys - This is another song that is very hard to cover since ORB's version is so played that it is hard not to compare any new rendition to the original. However, in this version Home Free and Oak Ridge Boys do it together - and we end up with a high energy, joyful and fun rendition full of low notes, high notes, harmonies and vocal percussion that will literally rock your chair. The blend of old and new country harmonies is perfect. The mix of ORB and HF members singing leaves us wanting for more of them together, and there seems to be a chance that the future holds it. You can read a longer review of this song in this blog post here.
5. Don't It Feel Good - another Tim Foust original - the title song to their current tour. This song makes me think of musicals for some reason, maybe because musicals also makes me feel good. It is a harmonious, toe-tapping, finger snapping, happy song that makes me want to sing-along; Nanananananana Don't It Feel Good. Adam drops the beat at a perfect time, and Austin is just killing it in the lead. It hits just right, and it absolutely makes me feel good. If you've got a friend you know is feeling down - just send them this song.
6. Alabama Sampler - medley of Alabama songs -There's really not much to say about this track other than that all the original songs featured in it are great and Home Free do them all justice with their amazingly tight harmonies, and in my opinion, that is not an easy thing to accomplish. I get a lump in my throat and the tears are pressing behind my eyes when Austin sings "I believe there are Angels among us", because he can't really sing the word "Angels" without sounding like one. And let's face it - this group was born country even if it took them a while to realize it. The only problem I've got with this song is that I want the full length covers of the whole songs, but that's the case for all the medleys Home Free does, and I suppose it is a good thing to want that.
7. Seven Bridges Road - the Eagles cover - what can I say other than Heavenly Perfection! The harmonies in this song will give you goosebumps all over your body, the hair will stand up on your head, your ears will cheer with joy, your eyes will tear up - again - and your heart will overflow with love. The Eagles can feel deeply honoured by this rendition. Is it better than the original? In my opinion yes; but mostly because it is fresh and has a new sound. I still think the Eagles can hold their fort down, but Home Free has invited themselves in to it - peacefully - there's no fighting going on here. Well done! #standingovation
8. Friends In Low Places - a Garth Brooks cover - This is one of the most wanted songs for Home Free to cover and it's not hard to understand why. The Fries have requested it a lot, and Home Free doesn't disappoint. I love that Tim gets to sing lead on this song, because his 5 octave range is perfect for it. His middle range is full and have a way of pulling you in to the song; his low notes are - low and rumbling- and his high notes are - well, higher than anyone singing that low should be able to sing. I find it intriguing how he can go from low to high, and back, from one note to the other. His country twang adds an extra touch to the sarcastic tone that sneaks in at times, which is perfect for the story of this song. Together with Rob's perfect whistling, the tight harmonies, and Adam's "drumming" this is one of my favourites off this album. And that is saying a lot. This is the song I have found myself humming when I'm not listening to the album.
9. Honey, I'm Good - Andy Grammer cover - this song is fun, and it has some of the lowest notes you will ever hear in your entire life, it's in the bass line so you might think it's just the moon shaking underneath you. Rob's voice is perfect for this upbeat tempo song and with Austin's high "wo-wos" as an extra booster it is full of energy. This song has been available for a long time, both as an mp3 and a video, and it makes a perfect addition to this album's uplifting feel. This song always makes me dance without fail, and it doesn't matter whether I am waiting for the bus or sitting down at work. It makes me want to move my butt.
10. Fishin' In The Dark/Down In The Boondocks - a mashup covering The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Little Big Town songs - To me this is the most surprising track on the album. Not the song choices in themselves, because they are perfect for Home Free, but the arrangement of them. If I had not known this was a mash-up by two different songs I would never have guessed it. This song is exciting and electric, and it brings the album to yet another level, a level I for one wasn't expecting at all. All of the Guys' voices are used to perfection in both the individual parts and the harmonizing, and Adam's heavy beats together with Tim's deep bass line brings it home. This is one of the songs that will have the world gasp out of surprise that there are no instruments used. It is so full of sounds that sound like instruments it is really hard to grasp it's all vocals. Even for me that is not new to Home Free's talent.
11. The Devil Went Down To Georgia - Charlie Daniels cover - featuring Charlie Daniels and Taylor Davis. There's an actual instrument on this song; a violin played by the amazing Taylor Davis and by Charlie Daniels himself. This song is a story, and if a story has ever been told in a country song this is the one best told, and this rendition is the best teller of it. It is the story about the Devil being challenged to a fiddler duel by a young boy named Johnny. Tim and his deep voice is the story teller, Charlie Daniels himself is the Devil, and Austin is the boy. Adam with his devilish beats, and Rob and Chris with their tight harmonies are the icing on this delicious cake. Charlie Daniels plays the violin for the Devil, and Taylor Davis plays the rest. Listen to the story, listen to the duel. Listen to it all. You will not be disappointed!
12: House Party - Sam Hunt cover - this track was a late addition to the album as this is a brand new song. Home Free heard it, liked it and decided they wanted it to be on this album. This song is a whole lot of fun and it makes you want to dance and party, for sure. As in every other Home Free song there are tight harmonies, great beat boxing, a wicked bass line and a sound that sound nothing like the a cappella most people think of when they hear the word. Just get up and dance, clap your hands, cheer and have a house party!
13. California Country - written by Home Free's Austin Brown - this is the first ever Austin original that Home Free does; and just as Austin himself it is a soulful song with a feeling of peace and love and the full harmonies add to that feeling. The arrangement is perfect and this song makes me want to sit down after all the dancing and cheering I have done to the other songs. While sitting there I will stomp my foot and clap one hand on my leg to the nice, mellow beat while having a big smile on my face. Well done, Austin, this song makes me want more of your songs.
14. Serenity - Tim Foust original - the last track on this album is perfect in so many ways. It is sweet, it is soft, it's filled with harmonies and it is beautiful enough to bring tears to your eyes - yet again. This song is almost like a prayer, and it is only a minute long. Tim has said that it was all he had to say at the moment - which to me makes it even more perfect. This song brings Country Evolution home. If California Country took us down from the energetic high grounds we've been up on during all the other songs Serenity will bring you the feeling of peace you need before going to bed. And it makes you want more of it. It makes you want more of Home Free. It makes me already longing for their next album, and the last note is still vibrating the air around me.
So, time to finish this review up. I love this album, it has the potential to become one of those epic albums people still talk about and listen to years and years and years from now. I might be a bit bias as I am already completely in awe and in love with this amazing group of Guys, but, putting that aside (as much as I can); music wise, talent wise, what they have done with this album; it is pure genius. And I will say it again, and I will say it proudly and stand by it;
Country Evolution is Music Revolution!
As I have been listening through all the songs trying to find the words for this review I have gone through so many different emotions, and I can't wait to make new memories to these new songs and new renditions of old favourites. If you haven't already ordered this album you need to do so as soon as you can. There are three places to order it online; the Home Free website, iTunes and Amazon (there are links to Amazon on top right of this page). Make sure to get the Deluxe version for all the tracks. If you're outside of the States you have to go to your area's iTunes or Amazon. If you don't want to buy the "pig in the sack" without hearing it first you can listen to the whole album on Spotify, but please, if you like it and can afford it you should buy it. Artists hardly get anything from Spotify and we want to support these Guys. After you bought it you can go back to Spotify to listen to it if you want to.
I will leave you with the latest Home Free video - their amazing and breathtakingly beautiful rendition of the Eagles' Seven Bridges Road. Enjoy!