Jerrod Niemann, "High Noon" (Arista Nashville)
Jerrod Niemann's one-of-a-kind recordings have been as adventurous as any male country singer to score a hit in the last five years. But country music doesn't always embrace experimentation. So the Kansas native has enjoyed a few hits but has struggled with consistency on the radio charts.
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"High Noon," Niemann's third album with Arista Records, is his attempt to reign in his wilder ideas without completely ditching his daring nature. His current hit, "Drink to That All Night," overflows with unusual musical flourishes, bringing life to Niemann's mix of rap-influenced verses and a thumping, singalong chorus. Even the seemingly conventional "Come On, Come On" features sly embellishments, while Niemann nails the feel-good spirit of the lyrics -- making it the album's standout cut.
However, some songs go too far in dulling Niemann's edges. Nearly every male Nashville singer has a song boasting that country boys can get loud and rough, and Niemann's "We Know How to Rock" doesn't add anything new or clever. The lackluster "She's Fine" wastes a chance to create something special with country rapper Colt Ford.
But when Niemann ends the wacky "Donkey" by mocking the animal's signature bray, it's clear he's still full of unexpected turns. Let's hope he keeps the weirdness intact while trying to strike gold.