|Eli Young Band have built a sizable following on mixing pop, rock and country into a blender and putting a Texas label on it. The type of band that stereotypically gets chicks to come to the gig and drag their boyfriends along. Then, halfway through the first few songs the guys realize these guys aren’t half bad.|
Snapped up by Frank Liddell and Carnival Recordings several years back after Liddell caught their opening set for Miranda Lambert in Dallas, the band has been climbing the long mountain of music fame with energetic live shows and a steadily growing fan base bolstered by a large online presence and skillful songwriting. Jet Black and Jealous is the band’s first national effort for the Universal South label. It opens with a reprise version of their biggest hit, “When It Rains”. The song has been left fairly unchanged from the version found on Level, and should surely capture the ears of people who’ve never heard the band before.
“Always the Love Songs” is a strong tune written by David Lee Murphy of “Party Crowd” fame and George Ducas of “Lipstick Promises” fame. The lyrics in the song talk about picking guitars around a campfire and playing those songs that everyone knows and drunkenly sings along with at midnight on a backroad in Nowhere, TX USA. While the music is reminiscent of “6th Avenue Heartache” from The Wallflowers, a band that EYB sounds more and more like as they grow into their own. Blu Sanders joins Mike Eli to co-write “Radio Waves”. A tune about using the radio to communicate to the girl you’ve made mad, or the girl you’re missing. A clever take on country’s cliché getting the girl back song.
My favorite track on this album is the cover of Keith Gattis’ “Famous”. Gattis is one of those songwriters that always has a knack of conveying the most complex human emotions in the most simple way. EYB’s musical backing and Eli’s emotive vocals backed by some good harmony express the despair of not getting the one you love to love you back despite how great your current circumstance is. You might be the most famous person in the world, and the person you want most will still ignore you. A tragic reality experienced by every one a time or two in their lives, albeit on a much smaller scale than the name-checked Steve McQueen. “Guinevere” is a sweet ballad Eli and Young co-wrote with Nashville songwriting heavyweight Scooter Carusoe, and it holds Eli’s strongest vocal on record to date.
This record has the potential to take EYB to that next level they crave. I’m not sure if country radio will jump behind the album as quickly as some pop stations. Some of these tunes could go right into a rotation behind the Daughtry’s of the world…and there is nothing wrong with that! Mike Wrucke has done a fantastic job of producing an album that accentuates EYB’s positives, while straddling the line between modern country and pop seamlessly. Jet Black and Jealous is an album that achieves what it set out to do.