“It don’t matter if it’s raining, nothing can faze me, I make my own sunshine” – ‘I Make My Own Sunshine’, Steven Tyler
On Friday 15th July Aerosmith’s front man, Steven Tyler will release his debut solo album worldwide on Dot Records, a branch of Big Machine Label Group.
Tyler, who is a great fan of the Country music genre saying, “Country is the new Rock and Roll”, began writing this album back in spring of last year with some of Nashville’s best writers, and he co-produced the album with T Bone Burnett, Dan Huff, Marti Frederiksen and Jaren Johnston. We can’t wait to see how well the album performs since his first Country single went to number 1 on the Billboard Country Streaming Song Charts. We weren’t sure what to expect at first, though his first two Country releases were successful, we weren’t sure how successfully he would be able to transition into the Country genre for a whole album. However upon listening, though there are a number of tracks that cross over genres, we are beyond impressed, it could be in contention for Country album of the year! So here’s a song by song break down of the album before it hits the shops on Friday.
The first track ‘My Own Worst Enemy’ would not have been our choice of opening track, due to the fact it’s potentially the least Country track on the record, but after listening to the album a couple of times we see why they have put it in the order they have. It feels like a progression, a transition if you like, from Steven Tyler’s musical roots to Country music. The instrumentation is slightly unusual, an accordion is very prominent, it begins acoustically and progresses to electric guitar solos in the outro. The verse lyrics have a Country feel to them, talking about family and whiskey, two common themes in the genre and the harmonies at the end of the chorus allow the track to open out a bit. The title track follows ‘We’re All Somebody From Somewhere’. I love this track, the chorus is quite catchy, and it reminds me a little of something Little Big Town might sing with the melodic movement and instrumentation of the track; the production is on point and again typical Country topics are addressed – we all like Whiskey!
‘Hold On (Won’t Let Go)’ has a cool effect on Tyler’s vocals, quite far from your typical Country track, it brings some of Steven’s earlier influences into it. ‘It Ain’t Easy’ is the first ballad we hear on the record. The harmonies in the second half of the verse are just sublime and there are some great melodic hooks running throughout. The chorus takes you somewhat by surprise as the song doesn’t quite journey where you expect it to which isn’t a bad thing, it keeps the listener intrigued and engaged. ‘Love Is Your Name’ is our favourite track on the album, it has a Mumford and Sons feel to it especially in the chorus with the Banjo being prominent in the arrangement and that driving uptempo drum beat. The vocals are powerful and the last chorus is big!
The album progresses to a happy, fun-loving song, ‘I Make My Own Sunshine’, which sends out a positive message of pro-activeness and choosing happiness. In a song riddled with hooks, one of which hits you straight away (the oohs in the intro are very effective) it is hard to get that catchy chorus out of your head and the instrumentation reflects the song’s content: it is mostly based around a Ukulele. We take a slight departure from this instrumentation in ‘Gypsy Girl’ which appears to have programmed drums in the beginning of the song. Again the chorus is the highlight of the song, the melodies will stay with you for a while and we love the line, “Love is like a string of pearls while I was waiting for the string to break from a thousand miles away, somehow we made it home.” Throughout the album the backing vocals are really strong and well worked.
‘Somebody New’ features a nice mandolin in the instrumentation and once again opens with a hook in the form of oohs. It’s a really well written Country Pop song and songs like that will assert Tyler’s place in the Country music World, and give him the respect he deserves among Country fans. The production of ‘Only Heaven’ really makes this song, it begins with a sparse instrumentation, giving Tyler’s vocals space to be appreciated and it makes it that more powerful when that big chorus hits. ‘The Good, The Bad, The Ugly & Me’ is one of our favourites, the Nashville way of writing really shines through in these lyrics, and on ‘Red, White and You’. It has a more Country-Rock edge to it, featuring a great instrumental. ‘Sweet Louisiana’ really shows Steven Tyler’s vocal capabilities switching from chest to head voice very smoothly in the chorus and once again the harmonies are lovely.
‘What Am I Doin’ Right’ shows a slightly more emotional and delicate side to Tyler. The simple instrumentation compliments the subject matter well and it has a unique end to finish on the diminished chord. ‘Janie’s Got A Gun’ discusses a serious and dark subject matter and this is reflected in the minor key of the song and Tyler’s haunting vocals which really deliver the message of the song. It’s a slightly different take on the classic Aerosmith song. The arrangement of the strings is fantastic also, it took us a second listen to really appreciate what they were doing. ‘Piece Of My Heart’ concludes the debut solo album and this is a great song from back in the 60s featuring the fantastic band, Loving Marym who are going out on tour with Tyler later in the year. Steven Tyler’s vocals are great on this track as they are throughout the album and it is a brilliant way to conclude the album.
We was very pleasantly surprised by this album, it’s great to hear some classic Country devices throughout: in the instrumentation, the lyrics and even to an extent in Steven Tyler’s vocals; however he brings his own influences and personality to each song, potentially putting it in contention as one of the most successful cross-over albums this year. You can pre-order it now on Amazon and iTunes and stream on Spotify.