MI0004052932

On the cover of his 2014 debut album, Write You A Song, Jon Pardi seemed a bit like a metrosexual country boy but on California Sunrise, he’s decked out like an old-school cowboy, complete with a big hat and blue jeans. This is the major change in image, but the music on California Sunrise isn’t markedly different than the debut. Like the high-octane Write You A Song before it, California Sunrise is produced by Bart Butler, but the album finds space for softer tones and slower tempos, a shift that opens the doors for a little experimentation with rhythms. “Heartache On The Dance Floor” bears a bit of R&B-friendly AAA pop sheen, and at its core “Lucky Tonight” is a soul song all gussied up with fiddles and blues guitar. A few other cuts are light on their feet; “Head Over Boots” rolls along with its singalong chorus, whilst “Cowboy Hat” trades upon the leering twilight of bro-country, but overall California Sunrise remains grounded in sinewy, straight-ahead country, sometimes delivered by Jon Pardi with a sly grin. Perhaps his cheer is a bit subdued, his everyday persona can work against him, suggesting that he’s not much more than a guy next door, but this workingman’s diligence is a key element in turning California Sunrise into a frills-free, sturdily crafted collection.