Kevin Fowler, ‘Chippin’ Away’ – Album Review
In an interview with Taste of Country, Kevin Fowler shared that he hoped his new album 'Chippin' Away' could satisfy his loyal Texas fan base while allowing him to grow nationally. The singer has actually been trying to do this for years, but bad luck and a few record labels gone belly up have slowed him down. 'Chippin Away' isn't the album that's going to make him an overnight superstar, but it's certainly capable of allowing to "chip away" at the country's conscience.
'That Girl' kicks off the project. It's the song Fowler says his new record label, Average Joe's Entertainment, plans to ship to radio stations nationwide. To judge the album on this single would be a little misleading. The uptempo rocker is polished and hooky, two things radio likes. It feels like a Jack Ingram song. That's worrisome because although Ingram has done well with critics, he's thus far had a tough time crossing the imaginary chasm that Fowler says runs along the Red River between Texas and Oklahoma.
There are many more great songs on 'Chippin Away,' but none one would also call "polished and hooky." 'Hell Yeah, I Like Beer,' is loud and rowdy. The fan favorite has been the No. 1 song on the Texas charts for three weeks, and the video features a who's who of Texas country celebrities. A nun would have trouble denying the urge to sing along on this fun bar anthem.
'Daddies and Daughters' is yet another style of song -- there really is no theme to rely upon on this album. Fowler tells this tender story from personal experience, as he has three daughters between ages four and 16. Although his hard-partying fans may not admit it, there will be tears shed during the ballad. "Daddies and daughters / Have something no one else does / Unique and special kind of love / It's hard to explain / How men tough as leather / Can turn to velvet when she smiles / Worlds apart as they may seem / There's nothing like the love between / Daddies and daughters."
'Beer Money' and 'Girl in the Truck' continue the back-and-forth volley; the later is reminiscent of songs by another Texas singer named Mark Chesnutt. The ping-pong nature of the album was intentional, Fowler says. He and producer David Lee Murphy weren't out to create a concept. They just picked the 11 best songs. Depending on personal tastes, that strategy is inevitably going to create a few low points on this roller coaster.
Few will argue that the title track is one of them. 'Chippin' Away' is the song that describes Fowler's career thus far, but it's easy for any plucky, hard-working so-and-so to relate to the lyric. Success tastes best when it's hard earned, after all, and while the Texas singer won't soon be mentioned in the same breath as men named Kenny and Blake, there's no telling what can come if he keeps plugging along.