Skip to content

Album Review: “Julianne Hough” by Julianne Hough

May 21, 2008

Julianne Hough

It seems that reality shows everywhere are producing country music stars. What makes Julianne’s situation so unique is that she hails not from Nashville Star, American Idol, Star Search or any other singing competition for that matter, but from the hit show Dancing With The Stars as a professional dancer and a partner for a star who competes. The two time champion of the show has made a name for herself as one of today’s most astonishing and immortal dancers through the eyes of fans and critics alike. So with her dancing career in full swing she goes for the gold by signing a recording contract with Mercury Records, and thus we have her self-titled debut album. Hough teams up with some of the most powerful songwriters in the genre to make a nice mix of different kinds of material.

I can personally say I liked Hough with her shorter hair when she released a two track singles disk a while back. What makes her long due so appropriate though is that it shows of a more mature woman from her instead of the “good girl” image. I bring this up in relation to the opening track, her first single “That Song In My Head”. This also brings out a more womanly aspect of Julianne as she approaches a summer time girls anthem with a lot of enjoyment and excitement instead of overpowering it with romance and mushy situations. She shows a lot of maturity and respect for the song by making it a smooth and easy listen. It gets the listener into the mood for more and makes the statement right off the bat that she is not to be underestimated, there is a lot this album has to offer. So right away Julianne dismisses her former good girl image and brings a fun and familiar tune in to start things off.

The second track slows things down to a more mid-tempo beat, but brings in a much more country sound. As with some very famous hits like Cash’s “Cry, Cry, Cry” and Billy Currington’s hit “Why, Why, Why”, Julianna’s second track on her debut album is also in repetition titled “You, You, You”. While the repeated use of words like train, you, and lips in threes is a little superfluous and show-offish from the writers, this tune manages to grab the listeners attention with a solid country background and a very well done expression of love and irresistible attraction towards a significant other. Hough speaks to the man she loves and how she would do anything to be with him. Again she shows off some maturity with a more entertaining love song than an overdone sappy one.

One song that takes a few listens is the clever “Hide Your Matches”. Julianne once again takes a crack at a popular and seemingly traditional aspect of a country song by using fire as a symbol for the love she feels for her man. In a slick fashion she asks him to hide his matches and to be careful what moves he makes if he isn’t ready for her to go as far as she wants to go with him. The matches are meant to represent the man’s ability to light the fire and to help get the relationship to it’s peak. This is actually a very bold and brave look at the delicate condition of the heart that many men refuse to admit. Some go into it to quickly and regret it, another aspect symbolized by a cigarette that burns out and leaves regret, and some just want to take their time and wait until they’re ready. Julianne warns her man to think about how far he is prepared to go and to avoid starting the fire, if appropriate, because once it starts it can’t be stopped. It’s very impressive how Julianne can handle such a complicated song and be able to get the correct message across so well.

Back to the fun stuff, we have “My Hallelujah Song” which is likely Julianne being thankful for her new career in country music as well as her success as a dancer, her first passion. This song may be a little weaker than the tracks beginning the album, a common ailment in debut projects, but it preserves Julianne’s impressive ability to tackle a song with complicated, yet significant lyrics and pull it off nicely. With this one she attempts to spread the word of how life can sometimes be complicated, but in the end everything will be clear and it all usually works out and you’ll find yourself singing your own song of happiness. On a similar note is “About Life” which teams up Trevor Rosen with two renowned writers, Jessica Andrews and Marcel, for writing credits. In the typical fashion of the writers and the in Julianne’s entertaining fashion, the crew create a unique and worthy song that could count asinspirational for the young and the old. Hough puts herself in the comical position of a woman who has learned only one thing and that is that despite her efforts she still knows almost nothing about life.

 I like to think of the next song as a modern “Me & Bobby McGee”. In fact it has the same last name, “Jimmy Ray McGee”. However, unlike the romantic personality that Kristofferson put into Bobby McGee, this song makes Jimmy Ray McGee a good example of a bad man to date in high school years. Julianne takes the opportunity to spread a powerful story with a powerful message that is no doubt targeted towards young teen girls and the increased risk of pregnancy in their high school years. Hough takes the persona of a girl looking back on her high school days and the mistake she avoided by turning down the romantic offers of Mr. McGee. She takes another man over him, a decision that seemed heartless and regretful under her teenage impatience to find love and go the distance. This decision turns out to save her from a tattered future as she reveals Jimmy had impregnated a woman and ran of after the child’s birth. She sums it all up by explaining that waiting may hurt, but hurrying may hurt more.

For those who are fans of Dancing With The Stars you may also know Julianne’s brother Derek Hough. The dancing star joins his sibling on the song “Dreaming Under The Same Moon”. The pair are perfect for this tune and make it that much more important for this project with the understanding that they are brother and sister. This track brings them together as two people singing to each other while they are far apart, a common result of their respective careers, and considering the possibility that they may be dreaming under the same moon. This shows an eternal connection between the two characters and appropriately allows the listeners to understand the respect, admiration and family love that these two singers share for each other. For any person it is very comforting to look up into the sky and know that despite how far away you may be from someone, they are under that same sky and that that one fact will keep you together. Despite its somewhat corny and cliche message, this is probably among the most respectable tracks Julianne could have offered on her first album.

“Hello” is another fast paced offering which is the closest thing to a tongue-and-cheek song that she can have offered without going to far for her own limitations. Loaded with hilarity, this upbeat tune has Hough speaking to her friend about her choices of men and her consistant mistakes thereof. She tries to explain that picking the same kinds of guys all the time is not going to make for a successful romantic life. If all you change is the face then there won’t be much of a difference between man A’s problems and man B’s problems. What I love about this one is that nothing is held back. There is no sense of pity and no beating around the bush, just a flat out criticism about the way that her friend continues to make the same mistake over and over again. She also comments with an interesting metaphor comparing men to fish in a shallow pond, under such conditions you can only blame the fish for so long before the fisherman is the only one to blame.

The end of the album is a little rocky, as expected. “Help Me, Help You” is a very powerful song that slows things down a bit…maybe a little to much. It a little boring to start, considering it’s far into the album, and almost makes you want to skip it until you really get to the chorus. It turns out that this slow and seemingly boring tune is actually a very inspirational song in the end. Julianne tells the story of her character meeting a woman at a bar and coming to the conclusion that she has a drinking problem. However, this woman refuses to receive help. Thus we have Hough asking how to help a person who won’t ask for it. The second verse reveals the woman’s drinking led her to a near death experience, her daughter having found her, and Hough rushes at to help at the daughter’s call. Finally we find Julianne four years into the future watching that same woman give and inspiring speech about how she gave up alcohol four years ago and how she wants her audience, apparent AA members, to help her help them with the same problem. Although it starts off boring, the hook really brings the listener into the story and serves as a way of inspiring everyone to try their best to help another no matter what they may say or do to prevent it.

“Love Yourself” is also only mildly entertaining to start. Julianne goes for another more personal message to herself as she tries to encourage her female listeners to love themselves despite any relationship setbacks that may have occurred. In the song she is speaking to her best friend after a breakup that occurred over the phone and is trying to convince her to love herself like her friends love her because in the end that’s all that really matter, that you care about you and that your closest friend care about you. The closing track is a slow tune titled “I’d Just Be With You”. Every debut album seems to have that one song that is just shy of the rest as far as being an appropriate and single worthy song. This is Julianne’s. The song itself is not that bad, but it is a little boring and mediocre when compared to the rest of this project. With all due respect though, it sounds deep and powerful, a probable dedication to her fiancee. Julianne concludes her album in this song by explaining to a loved one that she sees him as a guiding light in her times of struggle and that she hopes he can see her as the same.

A debut album should be one of two things, a compilation of great and attractive songs that shows off an artist’s talent or an expression of one’s persona and what makes them who they are as an artist to pose a great introduction to them. Julianne does the most appropriate thing, she combines them. Filled with entertaining songs and several personal messages that are likely close to Hough’s heart this album isn’t half bad for a debut project. It may be a little weak in some areas as far as production and it suffers from a lack of interest in the end compared to it’s beginning, but all in all Julianne pours her heart and soul as well as every inch of experience she has into this. She includes her brother into it, a man who has been a constant supporter through her long path to this album, and she spreads some very respectable messages to all age groups as well as adding a little hilarity into the mix. It will take some adjustments for her to reach some perfection, but Julianne continues the trend of this years newcomers who really are quite surprising.

 

3.5 Stars

 

Produced by David Malloy

Tracks:

  1. That Song In My Head
  2. You, You, You
  3. Hide Your Matches
  4. My Hallelujah Song
  5. Jimmy Ray McGee
  6. Dreaming Under The Same Moon (Featuring Derek Hough)
  7. About Life
  8. Hello
  9. Help Me, Help You
  10. Love Yourself
  11. I’d Just Be With You
Advertisements
3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 10, 2008 9:16 pm

    Her sister wrote “Dreaming under the same moon” just FYI

  2. Maddie permalink
    August 1, 2008 2:33 am

    omg that song is so awesome its catchy and and wen u sang u sounded so free keep up the goood work!!i give u an A+

  3. December 16, 2010 4:25 pm

    Hello.This article was really remarkable, particularly because I was browsing for thoughts on this subject last Sunday.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: