My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

EP Review: Chris Young – ‘Voices’

It’s no secret that I have been deeply disappointed for the most part with the direction that mainstream country music has taken in the past few years. There has been little regard for tradition among artists and radio programmers alike, as the genre has moved slowly but steadily away from its roots and closer and closer towards mainstream pop. “Who’s gonna fill their shoes?” asked George Jones, about country music’s legends, back in 1985. At the time and for quite a few years thereafter there seemed to be plenty of able singers waiting in the wings to carry on the tradition, but one by one they disappeared from the limelight and from radio playlists. From the famed Class of ’89, only Alan Jackson maintains a regular presence on country radio.

It’s enough to make a hardcore country fan give up altogether on the mainstream and retreat to the Americana camp or make do with listening to oldies for entertainment. But just when it all seems like a lost cause, there appears a glimmer of hope. Chris Young has been one of the few promising prospects in recent years. He won Nashville Star in 2005, which led to a record deal with RCA. His 2006 debut album, though solid, didn’t garner a lot of attention from radio. His commercial fortunes have improved considerably, though, with his sophomore effort, which has produced two #1 hits so far, including this week’s chart-topper, “The Man I Want To Be.”

Last week Young released a three-track digital EP called Voices, which pays tribute to some of the artists who influenced him. In an era where country stars are more likely to name Bon Jovi and Fleetwood Mac as influences than Haggard and Jones, it’s a breath of fresh air to hear a young up-and-comer name Keith Whitley, John Anderson, and Vern Gosdin as his musical heroes. Voices contains a track from each of these artists’ catalogs: Whitley’s “I’m Over You”, Anderson’s “Swingin'”, and Gosdin’s “Chiseled In Stone”. All are simple, acoustic arrangements that nicely showcase Young’s powerhouse voice. “Swingin'”, in particular, is a pleasant surprise. Never one of my favorite songs, Young’s stripped-down version is good enough to make me reconsider my opinion of the song. Both “I’m Over You” and “Chiseled In Stone” make a strong case that Young is the rightful heir to Whitley and Gosdin. Let’s hope that he is able to continue to come up with strong material and that radio continues to embrace it. Chris Young just may be the man who will lead mainstream country music out of the pop-flavored wilderness.

Grade: A+

Voices is available exclusively through iTunes and is highly recommended.

22 responses to “EP Review: Chris Young – ‘Voices’

  1. Occasional Hope May 31, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    These three cuts are all really great and it is so encouraging that an artist like Chris, who is genuinely rooted in country music, can still hit the top of the charts. Now all I want is for him to find original material as good as this.

  2. Kari May 31, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    I am completely enamored with this artist and his music. I love the covers he chose and I espcially love the direction his sophmore CD have gone. His version of Rainy Night in Georgia, shows he can sing anything and make it current. The fact that he chooses to honor his musical heros like this, is so respectful and heartfelt. He is only 24 years old and is so refreshing to hear on radio.

  3. Fay May 31, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Thank you for a beautiful article! All very true, too! I agree whole-heartedly with everything you have said about Chris Young and I’m certain that he will continue on the path to super-stardom and take traditional Country music back to the top where it belongs. His song choices, his honest delivery and that magnificent voice are together a soothing balm on the open wound of what is left of the Country music I love.

  4. Peggy Short May 31, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    Thank you for this wonderful article that showcases my favorite country artist. Chris has a voice and a delivery of songs that is pure country. His choice of songs for the 3 cuts were perfect to honor the artists who have influenced him and to answer George Jones question “I think Chris Young will fill those shoes very well and for many years to come.”

  5. Sharon May 31, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Thanks for writing a great article about the best country singer out today. I am so tired of all the fluff music that I have been hearing on the radio. It is so refreshing to hear a voice on the radio that is true to the country music that I grew up listening to. I wish this could have been a whole album with 10-12 songs. No one can sing these songs like Chris.

  6. Marilyn May 31, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Yes, Chris Young is keeping the ‘traditional country’ genre Alive and Well.
    Saw him and Josh Turner open recently for Alan Jackson and felt it was the first time in a very long time that I had seen all the acts at a country concert…actually Country…through and through. May Chris one day join Alan and Josh as members of the Grand Ole Opry!!
    It is such a delight for me to see our DJs picking up and spinning Chris’ s tunes! He’s a keeper. Thank God for all He has given Chris! Thanks to Chris for using it!

  7. Kimberly May 31, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Thank you for writing this wonderful article. Chris Young is definitely the BEST VOICE in country music today. This EP is AMAZING as are both of his albums. If you don’t own them, you are truly missing out! Yes, Chris fills those “shoes” or in his case “boots” quite nicely!

  8. Suzanne May 31, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    I fell in love with Chris Young’s voice in 2006 during Nashville Star and have been cheering him on ever since. So excited to see country radio finally embracing him! He has such a beautiful classic baritone – he could sing the phone book and I’d listen!!! đŸ™‚ I’ve heard him do many covers over the past few years and I’m so excited that he has released this EP with 3 of his (and my) favorites – such a treat! It’s an A++++++ in my opinion!

  9. Keith May 31, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    Chris Young is the best male singer in music today. Glad he chose a more traditional path. It suits his style and his vocal ability. I appreciate the review. I am happy to see that the future of Country Music is in capable hands.

  10. Russ May 31, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    Chris is a “Young” man who appreciates the roots of Country music and his rich baritone voice and song stylings will assure that country music will set aside a place of honor for Chris and his music when all is said and done…He is destined for greatness and it is not far off!

  11. Erik June 1, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Either Chris Young fans are extremely assimilated, or these posts come from the same person.

    • J.R. Journey June 1, 2010 at 5:06 pm

      Lots of reviews – especially for new artists – get linked to from a forum or message board, usually a fan club or fan-site. That’s what happened here. Someone mentioned Razor’s glowing review on the forum at Young’s official site and several came over to comment. They are a passionate and organized group, from what I saw.

    • Kari June 2, 2010 at 12:48 am

      lol, I assure you, we are all individuals here. I guess we all are just fans of great country music and Chris Young.

  12. Leeann Ward June 1, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    Either Chris Young fans are extremely assimilated, or these posts come from the same person.

    “We are Borg. Resistance is futile.”:)

  13. Nicolas June 2, 2010 at 1:56 am

    I’m more inclined to listen to female country artists, but as far as male country artists goes Chris Young is one of my favorites (along w/ Josh Turner)

    I really like his sophomore album and I’m very impressed to see that he not only took “Gettin’ You Home” to #1 for a week, but that he also took “The Man I Want to Be” to #1 for 3 weeks…

    Maybe if we’re lucky his new single (the re-release of “Voices”) will go #1 for 5 weeks! =)

  14. pwdennis June 2, 2010 at 2:33 am

    I don’t know about the comment “It’s enough to make a hardcore country fan give up altogether on the mainstream and retreat to the Americana camp or make do with listening to oldies for entertainment.”

    Americana really isn’t an alternative since it is such an amorphous category. Also (a) the format is not universally available (there is no Americana station within range of Orlando) and (b) Americana is cluttered with too many 3rd rate vocalists

    The making do with oldies part often is the case

    • Razor X June 2, 2010 at 9:49 am

      And therein lies the problem. I look to Americana for time to time for things that align to my tastes, but it’s very hit or miss.

  15. Leeann Ward June 2, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Most of my favorite artists that were once mainstream are now considered Americana. I’ve found a lot of great stuff in the category, but agree that it’s so wide that it’s not a reliable source either. I do have better luck there than the mainstream these days though.

  16. Jen R June 4, 2010 at 7:42 am

    There is no better artist in country music today to “fill the shoes” of the legends better than Chris Young. As a long time country music fan, I grew up with Johnny Cash, David Allen Coe, Keith Whitley, George Jones, Haggard, & Jennings, I appreciate Young’s respect for the legends and his voice pays tribute to them with every note. His 2nd CD is amazing, one of my favorites on the disc is the duet with Willie Nelson on the Waylon Jennings classic “Rose in Paradise”. What a talent this young man is. Thank you Chris for reminding us what great country music sounds like.

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