Album Review: Jerrod Niemann’s ‘This Ride’

Back in 1992, when he was campaigning for the White House, Bill Clinton scored a catchphrase that became one the unofficial slogans of that year’s Presidential election – “It’s The Economy, Stupid.” On his seventh studio album, Jerrod Niemann borrows a page from that playbook. No, the maker of such hits as “Lover, Lover” and “One More Drinkin’ Song” isn’t going political on us. He’s much to wise to alienate either section of his fan base. But, his approach to the sound of this album is pretty much cut and dried. Sometimes, we as a culture tend to overthink things a bit. You can have the deepest subjects and statements on an album, but at the end of the day, music is meant to make you feel something. In other words, life is sometimes too convoluted, and sometimes, you just need to let loose and have fun, which is something Niemann has always been good at.

With that in mind, fans won’t find a lot of heavy-handed subjects on This Ride, Jerrod Niemann’s debut for Curb Records. Sure, there are some ballads of heartbreak, “Out Of My Heart” and “Comeback” among them, and the singer pours just the right amount of emotional fortitude into them (especially on the latter, which ranks as perhaps his grittiest performance yet). But, for the most part, Niemann keeps things very light on this album, with his usual emphasis on production that always manages to stretch the imagination a bit.

This album has something for just about everyone. Songs like the opening “Zero To Crazy” and “I Got This” both have that boundless enthusiasm that has made such hits as “Donkey” crowd favorites among his base. Another track that hits the right notes is the intoxicating “Feelin,” which could very well be a single hit for Niemann at some point down the line. One of the coolest-sounding cuts on the album is the peppy “I Ain’t All There,” which features a cameo appearance from Diamond Rio.

Then, there are the two songs fans already know from this collection – the rollicking “A Little More Love,” which the singer cut with labelmate Lee Brice, and the tender sentiment of “God Made A Woman,” a ballad hit from the summer that reflects Niemann’s current personal state with his recent marriage to wife Morgan. Both of these songs have made an impact with listeners – and are on varying ends of the emotional spectrum, the sign of an artist who is always willing to evolve. But, on this particular disc, the singer elects to keep things in an up-tempo manner, and the resulting factor is an album that is just pure fun to listen to. You can’t have enough of those these days!