Album Spotlight: Jerrod Niemann, ‘This Ride’
Jerrod Niemann is back with his fourth major album This Ride — his first studio album in three years and first full-length release on his new label, Curb Records.
Focusing more on emotions rather than tipping one back, This Ride marks more mature territory for Niemann, who playfully notes that the album contains “a little less songs from the liver” and “more songs from the heart.” It’s also the first album he’s released since marrying his wife, Morgan, in 2014, which he admits had an effect on his writing and song selection.
Niemann digs into romantic relationships early and often on This Ride, from one-sided heartbreak on “But I Do” and “Comeback” to the positive, every-woman shoutout in “God Made a Woman.” However, romance hasn’t made Niemann abandon his good-time mentality altogether — he offers feel-good songs “I Got This,” “A Little More Love” (featuring label mate Lee Brice) and “The Regulars,” a creative ode to those usual patrons on small town barstools everywhere.
A singer-songwriter for more than a decade, Niemann co-wrote two tracks on the album: “Whiskey Waitin’ on Ice” and “I Ain’t All There” featuring Diamond Rio. He says he wasn’t in the “writing zone” in preparation for this album, so he reached out to the Nashville songwriting community for inspiration. In turn, the Kansas native cut songs by some of country music’s hottest names: Ashley Gorley, Shane McAnally, Craig Wiseman, Rodney Clawson and more have credits. “God Made a Woman,” the lead single for This Ride, was written by country artist Michael Ray, along with co-writers Joel Shewmake and Jeff Hyde.
On the production end, Niemann once again teamed with Jimmie Lee Sloas, who also co-produced Niemann’s 2014 album High Noon. The duo co-produced all of This Ride (with the exception of an extra production credit by Lee Brice on “A Little More Love”) and revolved the album around a less-is-more approach.
“God Made a Woman,” for example, has minimal instrumentation that centers on steel guitar, acoustic guitar, orchestra sounds and background stereo sounds that bring the song to life. It reflects the flavor of the entire album, which showcases lyrics and vocal melodies as opposed to focusing on overproduced tracks.
Niemann takes chances with songs such as “Out of My Heart,” a tune with indie-rock hints including a banjo intro and a half-time chorus reminiscent of an EDM drop. He also dials it back with “I Ain’t All There,” featuring Diamond Rio, the most traditional track on the album, which is perhaps a modern homage to the ’90s country stars.
Even so, This Ride seamlessly showcases country lyrics over a variety of new sounds. And though the approach to the album was organic, it’s perhaps still Niemann’s most pop album to date, fitting in the heart of the current commercial country radio landscape.
The release date for This Ride is Oct. 6.
Key Tracks: “God Made a Woman," “This Ride,” "But I Do" and “The Regulars”
More New Country Albums Out in 2017