Jake Owen: Songs That Should’ve Been Singles
The process of choosing a single for radio is often as arduous a task as writing the song. Each month, Sounds Like Nashville will feature a different artist and explore songs from his or her catalogue that we wish made it to radio. Make no mistake, this is no critique of the artist or label, it’s simply a list of songs we love so much that we think deserve to be in the spotlight. This month, we take a closer listen to Jake Owen’s back catalogue and find eight gems that warrant airplay.
“Places to Run”
Jake Owen’s deep vocals shine on this poignant ballad off his debut album, Startin’ with Me. While the song itself is a heartbreaker about a man who always runs away from relationships, the accompanying music — pedal steel, strings and piano — give more of a relaxed, island vibe which fits Owen’s laidback character. He had a hand in co-writing the song too, with Kendall Marvel and Jimmy Ritchey. A more serious song for the singer, “Places to Run” shows his depth lyrically and features that sultry baritone that fans have come to know and love.
“Green Bananas” is a personal song that was inspired by one of Owen’s pals, who named his boat Green Bananas after a friend of his passed away from cancer. His buddy decided to name his boat after the unripened fruit because his friend told him in the hospital, “Don’t ever buy green bananas because you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.” Owen thought it was a great way to look at life and wound up writing about it with Ritchey and Bob Regan. The heartfelt story-song is introspective and one that urges the listener to live in the moment rather than worry about the future.
“Like my friend said, I’m going to live while I can and take each day as it comes / So I don’t buy green bananas, I don’t play the lottery / Right now’s all I’ve got goin’ and yeah, that’s just fine for me / And I don’t own an umbrella, if it rains I’m gonna get wet / And I don’t buy green bananas ’cause I don’t plan that far ahead,” he sings on the chorus.
“Every Reason I Go Back”
At first listen, “Every Reason I Go Back sounds like a song Kenny Chesney would cut and with good reason. The nostalgic song looks back on one’s hometown where nothing has changed and everyone knows your name. “It’s every reason that I left and every reason I go back,” Owen notes. The soaring electric guitar features throughout are anthemic and make “Every Reason I Go Back” perfect for the live setting and on radio.
“Anything For You”
This striking ballad continues to showcase Owen’s vocal power. The song has the singer telling a girl how he’ll do anything for her — he’ll “walk the Mississippi . . . catch a star in a mason jar so you can make your own wish / whatever that may be, baby, I’ll make it come true / I’ll do anything for you.” The perfect wedding song if there ever was one, “Anything For You” is a welcomed glimpse into Owen’s sensitive side.
“Nothin’ Grows In Shadows”
While Owen didn’t have a hand in writing “Nothin’ Grows In Shadows,” he manages to effortlessly make it his own. On each verse, the song offers a new life lesson as if it was written down by Jake himself. The track advises children not to be bullies in school, fathers not to pressure their kids on the sidelines of sports games and, most importantly, not to be a dark cloud that rains on everyone else. Listen all the way through the five-minute track for a closing bagpipes feature that further helps this song shine.
This piano-based ballad further demonstrates Owen’s ability as a vocalist. While at first “Heaven” sounds like a faith-based song that Josh Turner might cut, Owen shows his staying power with the track and his ability to walk away from the upbeat, beach anthems and sing something with more depth while still keeping the listener intrigued.
“The Journey of Your Life”
A song that shares advice from those who have come before us, “The Journey of Your Life” paints the picture of a grandparent sharing his knowledge with his grandson:
“You’ll need a hero and a good dog, especially a good dog, a hammer and handsaw, Band-Aid now and then / You’ll need a home to come home to,” the grandfather offers.
Necessities every parent wishes for their child or grandchild, the song is 2011’s version of Tim McGraw’s “Humble & Kind.” Additional advice given includes the importance of laughing a lot and keeping things light, faith in God above, a good song you can sing along to and a shoulder you can lean on. It’s a song that begs to be placed on repeat.
“Life of the Party”
It’s hard to believe this song was never released as a single because “Life of the Party” is radio friendly at its finest. A song that sees Owen struggling to move on after a relationship ends, he can’t seem to tell a party of people that he and his ex are long broken up. Instead, he says that they’re “better than ever” and she’ll be there later on. “I don’t want them to see I’m dying inside so I guess I’ll be the life of the party,” he achingly sings. A relatable song, the listener feels for the heartbroken singer.
Jake Owen’s much-anticipated new album, American Love, drops July 29. It’s available for pre-order HERE.