With the release of his third album (appropriately titled “3”), Bo Bice proves that the third time really is the charm. This album delivers on every promise you saw in Bo on American Idol. It’s the natural destination for the journey that began with “Whipping Post” and “Vehicle” on Idol, and later with “Cinnamon and Novocain”, “Sinner in a Sin” and “Whiskey, Women, and Time”.
This record, from start to finish, is Bo in all of his country influenced, Southern-fried glory (full thoughts on each song are after the break). It’s real, deep south rock-and-roll, with no apologies and no pretense. More importantly – it’s just a damn good album. Like a lazy Sunday evening in the swing on the front porch, with a glass of sweet tea – this album is comfortable and fulfilling. I’m looking forward to spending some more quality time with it over the next few months.
Keep on Rollin’
Bo starts the album off with a bang. This soulful anthem for the little man sets the tone for what’s to come. From the initial blast of horns, to the spiritual organ that supports the bridge and chorus; this songs takes all that’s best in traditional southern rock and blends it together into an almost gospel tinged experience.
Different Shades of Blue
After the high energy start, Bo slows things down with a “Different Shades of Blue”. It’s a heartbreak song that would be equally at home on country or top 40 radio. I love the blend of the fiddle and the electric guitar. The more I listen to it, the more I like it. Lyrically, it’s one of the strongest songs on the album, and has one of my favorite lines in it:
Faded photo of a house for sale,
Cold dark pewter of a casket rail
It’s one of those great lines that tells an entire story in the space of just 14 words. Those are the little moments in a song that make it great.
Coming Back Home
This is one of my favorite songs on the album. Bo is in full voice as he slides through the verses, and belts out the chorus. The harmonies are lush and deep, and the song ends with a great organ outro. This type of song is his sweet spot, and he doesn’t disappoint.
Good Hearted Woman
This song is pure country, through and through – it would be just as at home on a Garth Brooks record. The fiddle, the mandolin, the dobro, and Bo’s Alabama accent all combine flawlessly to give you a hearty dose of lazy Saturday afternoon in the south. There is some serious banjo picking at the end of the song – don’t miss it.
Lonely, Broke, and Wasted
Bo again slows things down with this song. In many ways, this song reminds me of Bo’s version of “Inside You Heaven”. There’s just something about the feel of the arrangement. Unlike “Inside Your Heaven” this song is not happy, nor is it uplifting – but it is does connect you with the emotion Bo taps into with the lyrics.
Much like “Keep on Rollin’”, this song is packed with soul and grease. The horns and organ are lush, and the song has swagger. You can’t listen to it and not see Bo prowling the stage with mic stand in hand.
Long Road Back
The very beginning of this song reminds me of “Night Moves” by Bob Seger. It doesn’t last for long – but I can’t get it out of my head. It quickly moves in to more country/rock territory. It’s very reminiscent of the best tracks from his early albums (think – “Whisky, Women, and Time”).
This is another great country song. If you were to sit down and try to write a southern love song, this is what you would come up with. The harmonica accents throughout are a perfect compliment to the mood of the song. Another one of my favorite tracks on the album.
Get on and Ride
If you liked “Whipping Post” – this song is for you. Bo uses his upper register to great effect, lending the song an intensity that you don’t get on some of the more laid back songs. It’s hard not to groove along with this track, once you get in to the pocket.
You Take Yourself With You
This is one of the most heartfelt songs on the album. It’s central theme – that you no matter where you go or what you do, you will always be you – is sage advice. I highly recommend that you Google Bo’s acoustic performance of this song from Fox and Friends. It’s just he and his guitar player acoustically, which really helps hone in one the central beauty of the song.
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