Since last reviewing both Paradise and What You're Looking For [apart from launching an Etsy store, Ruby June,] singer/songwriter Cody Belew has a new EP, Love Drunk Crazy, now released. However, there is one notable direction change that admittedly shouldn't but still surprises me.
Certain posts to social media hinted at a possible switchup into country music as opposed to the [relative] pop direction he had been encouraged/pushed into from his time on S3 of The Voice (Once you brag about songwriting in the studio where Reba McEntire does her thing, it's kind of writing on the wall that country is where you're headed.)
Here's how my review will work. All of the tracks will be judged individually; cohesion will determine the grade of the EP later. Obvious factors like singing ability and the instrumental of the song will be included as well.
# of songs: 5
Total run time: roughly 15 minutes
1. "Love Drunk Crazy"- So far, this is actually a step in the right direction. It isn't "obvious" country which is working in its favor. Singing wise, consistency is a virtue and his singing still sounds like it has passion behind it.
As far as the vibe, this could pass as Kacey Musgraves B-side [I promise that's a compliment due to this song's catchy nature.] Although, at a run time of 3:00, a Meghan Trainor comparison is in order.
2. "Hanging"- Vibe wise, this isn't offering anything terribly new; drinking away blues in some vein of love. At least the production sounds great and his singing is serviced properly. Even with minor gripes, there are more good factors than bad to take notice of this track.
3. "You Got that Something"- I swear this could have been a song that narrowly missed the tracklist for What You're Looking For. For something roughly country, this is pop/country due to how I perceive the tempo to be [maybe this is a dance-worthy track in country maybe pop/country world.]
The point is, the singing is there and I'm not mad at this. What I am mad at is the short run time. [3:15 minimum please]
4. "Live Like Yesterday"- Unexpected delight alert: hearing Belew sing the words "skinny dipping". Apart from that, the song is pretty decent; earnest lyrics wishing he and the presumed love interest were more reckless/youthful. It's cute even if it's nothing new.
Still, his vocals are sweeter than they have been on both previous releases and that's nothing to sneer at.
5. "Even the Losers"- A run time of 2:58? Gurl no. That aside, by now the EP established and offered a concrete universe of "simple pleasures" set to a country...well maybe pop/country sounds [Think in terms of Taylor Swift's early career before 1989 or country music that's "crossover" like Shania Twain on Come on Over.]
FINAL GRADE: B-
Don't get me wrong, the singing on this EP is a step in the right direction. A new sweetened vocal styling emerged and it is very pleasant. However, some of the instrumentals did blend in together bordering on monotony/sameness ("Isn't that usually country music in its most concentrated form?" No, judgmental me; let me explain why.)
It's not that the exact same instrumental was stretched out for 5 songs. My only gripe is that there wasn't anything to differentiate the songs apart from their titles being sung by Belew. Still, there is something to take away, other than the fact that new music by him has been released. It's that for all of the pop [singer/songwriter type mind you] direction of the last two releases to his name, Love Drunk Crazy was clearly planned as a country...ish release from the jump. Do I miss the "pop" Belew? Yes but I'm not unhappy with Love Drunk Crazy and in fact; if it is country, it's country that doesn't suck and that's an achievement and a half.
BEST TRACK: the title track, "Love Drunk Crazy". I'll gladly take a Kacey Musgraves style catchy track any day of the week, especially if it's done right.