Be sure you're near a good, clean air source before you begin Jake Owen's new single 'Days of Gold.' Words like "uptempo" or "rockin'" don't even begin to describe the pace the singer keeps up for over three spellbinding minutes. 'Eight Second Ride' is a ballad comparatively.

Banjo warfare atop a steady, rising pull from a harmonica (country's most underused instrument) serves notice to the timid. Owen leads a thundering heard of guitars and percussion, driving the pace instead of merely keeping up. He's never sounded more confident.

"But just me and my good friends / Jug of wine lil' sip, out here baby you just never know / These are the days of gold," he sings to close the first verse. Most lyrics are difficult to comprehend even after repeated listens, but what he's saying isn't really the point. The song is about the glory days of youth, and the energy (then and now) is what's important. Inevitably, people will think the song is called 'Southern Summer' because that's the most understandable part of the chorus.

"It's a southern summer / Whiskey’s in the air, dogs on the burner / Beers ice cold, gotta pretty little lady to hold / Southern summer / And that sunshine shining down like Daddy’s silver dollar / Hop on the old dirt road and the days of gold," Owen sings.

Little nuances, like how Owen rides the word "hold," make the song special. The aggressive, almost reckless production is going to offend those who like their boots shined and their woman's knees covered. No, 'Days of Gold' isn't for everyone, but it's definitely for Owen, and his vocal performance doesn't make waste of the opportunity.

"Little bit of you / Little bit of me / Whatcha gonna do / What's it gonna be / We can get wild, we can get free / You can shake it for me baby like a tambourine," he sings with heavy vocal effects, before offering something about watermelon seeds and sweaty backs. OK, lyrically he's not pressing emotional buttons, but the power of this song overcomes that.

"I'll be buzzin' on you honey like a bumblebee," he says, closing with a laugh that leads to one more chorus and a second frantic guitar solo. 'Days of Gold' isn't a song, it's a statement. It's a show-closer, and if Owen's new album comes with songs that match this authority, he'll be soon closing shows for much larger audiences.

4.5 Stars

Listen to a Sample of Jake Owen, 'Days of Gold'

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