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Album Review: “Son Of A Preacher Man” by John Rich

March 28, 2009

Son of a Preacher Man cover

2 Stars


John Rich, everybody’s favorite controversial country superstar, has broken away from partner Big Kenny, at least for now, to produce his second solo project and try and back up the tough talk that has made him such as news-maker the past year. Ironically enough this album does everything but that, leaving Rich far behind his own ability as a singer, a songwriter, and a producer.

John Rich has made himself a strong presence in many ways over his career. What began in a run with Lonestar has transformed into a respectable reputation as both a songwriter and producer, a powerful presence on the stage and countless news stories surrounding the often controversial and at times uncalled for antics. However none of this actually comes into play here. John’s performance, writing, and production are all dull, boring, and completely generic and easy to pass over.

What John Rich does accomplish here is a continuity for his practice of freedom of speech and his often self-centered ways, which in a song is usually not that bad if a writer does it correctly. However, every point that John tries to make completely loses its significance. Whether you’re trying to feel the emotion and respect in “The Good Lord And The Man” or the enjoyable power behind “Turn A Country Boy On” you lose interest by the end of the track. Even self-inspired songs like “Preacher Man” and “Everybody Wants To be Me” fall so short on all aspects that they end up sounding more egotistic than anything.

Then there’s production. The original first track “Another You” is a train wreck that only compliments the destructive setup of the rest of the project. The closing track “Drive Myself To Drink” attempts to create a Broadway-esk feel that comes off a more annoying than anything and many of the upbeat songs lack much substance at all to help them stand out.

I have to give Rich some credit though because save for this album he really has proven himself a role model of an entertainer, a masterful writer and a powerful producer for other artists and even as part of Big & Rich. Some of this does come over to this project to help lift it up just a little bit. The second single “Shuttin’ Detroit Down” is actually rather entertaining and contains some long lost solid country feel and an actual good performance by Rich. “I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love”, while again generic as they come for such a great writer, is the standout ballad of this album and the powerful “Why Does Somebody Always Have To Die” reminds the listener that despite this album there still is a great songwriter somewhere underneath that cowboy hat.

John Rich makes countless critical claims and movements through his public addresses, his run with Nashville Star and even his own show Gone Country, too many to have an album falter this bad. John knows what he is talking about, even if sometimes he goes a little overboard with it, and he has a great talent for providing an attractive hook, producing a well established project, and making powerful and effective messages come to life. These aspects are rarely found in Son of A Preacher Man, a fact more surprising than disappointing. Rich can and has done better than this in groups and with other artists so it stands to question why such a respectable trifecta was unable to apply this talent to his own work.

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