John Rich, ‘Rich Rocks’ – Album Review
John Rich has always brought a hip-hop style to country music, if not with the early sounds of Big and Rich, then with the way he carries himself. He drives expensive cars, irritates his neighbors and isn't afraid to flash the bling. He also walks with enviable confidence, as exemplified by the title of his new album, 'Rich Rocks,' available at digital retailers today.
These aren't criticisms. They're the qualities that separate the 'Celebrity Apprentice' finalist from other solo male singers in the genre. At his best, his songs aren't just the life of the party, they are the party. No one does loud like John Rich, and 'Rich Rocks' begins with the very loud 'Country Done Come to Town,' by far the best track on the six-pack.
"So put your Gucci shoes up and pull your old Luccheses out / We're gonna' have ourselves a hell-raisin' time / Yeah, we're gonna' party like cowboys tonight / Sangin' whoa, whoa country done come to town," Rich sings on the opening song.
From there, the album begins to slip a bit. A series of confusing guest appearances begins with Lil Jon on 'You Had Me From Hell No.' Much like Kid Rock, Cowboy Troy, and Hank Williams, Jr. later on the album, his talents are greatly underutilized. These artists simply introduce Rich and then disappear. It doesn't even sound like Bocephus showed up to record his lines. He literally phoned it in, perhaps wondering why he was introducing Rich and not vice versa.
Lil Jon's song is the first of three that provide love stricken men with clumsy ways to tell a woman she's good looking. Diving into the lyrics of this song wouldn't do it justice as it still shines coming out of 'Country Done Come to Town.' All of the tracks on 'Rich Rocks' flow seamlessly into the next, making this a perfect album to turn up at rowdy party.
'Mack Truck' (featuring Kid Rock) is the album's low point. Comparing a woman's ways to a Peterbilt is never a good idea. The song ends with 90 seconds of "she hit me like a Mack, hit me like a Mack, hit me like a Mack, hit me like a Mack Truck."
'Rich Rocks' is sort of like the hottie you meet at the club. At first everything seems just right, but over time you realize that sexy thang is best enjoyed at deafening volumes that make it impossible to pay attention to the content of the conversation. Kudos to Rich for not trying to inject a heartfelt message into any of the six songs, as it would be horribly out of place. He's only guilty of overdoing a sound he's defined. He's out "John Riched" himself.
The final three cuts are improvements on 'Mack Truck.' 'You Rock Me' is as obvious as it sounds, 'Texas' could serve as Rich's rowdy biography and 'Let Somebody Else Drive' (the Hank Williams Jr. contribution) is a curious drunk driving PSA, sang from the viewpoint of someone who's learned the lesson the hard way: "When you get on the whiskey / When you get on the whiskey / Hey when you get on the whiskey / Let someone else drive."
It's doubtful Rich was aiming for songwriting awards with any of the songs on 'Rich Rocks.' Ultimately, he's successful in making the project he set out to make. The EP is big, loud and not real smart, but not every album needs to be. There's a definite place for 'Rich Rocks' in one's collection; sometimes loud and rowdy is what's on the menu.
Watch the John Rich 'Country Done Come to Town' Video