Rock and Reprise.net
Pop goes the Country (and The Youngers go Pop). Covering the country edge from first track to last, they do it through reflecting various classic eras in pop and country music with a touch all their own. Heartbreaker, for instance, has the sound of modern country but with instruments stacked like the better 60s and early 70s country rock bands. The use of organ and harmony vocals smooth the country twang , but what really makes the sound groove is the jangly rhythm guitar, plucked and strummed and straight out of 60s pop. It is only the first of a string of Todd Bartolo-penned songs of note, the other ten maybe not as hit-song-oriented but every one as good. Heritage follows, a bit more country but country with a difference. Chord progression and brassy rhythm guitar carry the song, a foot-stomping winner, and when Bartolo sings ?How 'bout some relief for the working man...?, even the Rednecks will relate. You want rock? Highway 9 has a bit of a folk twinge but with choogling beat and loud electric guitar--- a possible future classic. With an early 60s intro (for those too young to know what that is, think Springsteen in his more poppy moments), In the Middle of the Night paints a picture every bit as good as Springsteen at his best, sax and all. And just to show that all he writes does not pay homage to the rock and pop worlds, Bartolo revisits the 60s country past with the bar-country Right All the Wrongs, sounding a bit early Willie, and man, listen to the classic fiddle sound on the break! The album ends with six minutes and fifty-seven seconds of ballad, Downtown, a beautiful and floating nod to lonely helped along by flawless piano and pedal steel.
The band's roots come out in the two tracks written by Randy Krater, Our Little Secret and The Ride. Both are straight from the honky tonks and give Krater a chance to sing something besides backup, and have no fear, he has a voice made for country and western which is just what these are. Put them on a jukebox in a honky tonk and they'd get major play.
There is a lot to love about The Youngers. For pop lovers, there is melody, hooks galore and just enough country twang to keep things interesting. For country lovers, the country twang balances the pop perfectly. Indeed, any track on this album could be played on any country station without disturbing the playlist. It's just plain good stuff and well worth checking out.
A huge nod goes to John Carter Cash, The Youngers' producer, and engineer Chuck Turner. Cash obviously knew what he had before they even entered the Cash Cabin Studio and put out the effort to make sure the songs were about as good as they could be. The result is a slick without being slick sound, something not always easily obtained. Of course, Turner helped. It never hurts to have a knob twister of the highest order behind the glass.