Chris Young - Aw Naw
Et tu Chris? It seems our boy isn't satisfied with strong airplay, critical approval and selling somewhere in the range of gold with his album releases. Aw naw! It's time Mr. Young stepped into the rarified air of the Aldeans and Sheltons of the world, so here we are. "Aw Naw" isn't as bad as the title or my build-up quite suggest, but it is a step back quality-wise, in my estimation. The guitars are louder than we've ever heard on a Chris Young single. His velvety baritone (one of the best voices in country music, period) becomes more of a talk with the occasional growl. The most obvious shift in Young's commercial presentation is the welcoming in of country buzz words. Patron, partying and painted-on jeans show up for the 16-25 aged suburban country set and I'm sure they'll eat it up. Young is still better than his contemporaries, even with material that is beneath him, so "Aw Naw" comes off a bit like Dale Earnhardt, Jr. driving a Kia. He drives it well, but his talents are more suited for a vehicle with greater power and prestige. The simple fact that an artist of such talent has to drop down a notch to entertain a more casual sort of country fan is disappointing but not surprising. Radio hasn't exactly supported his best material; "Neon" was one of the biggest slights in recent memory. I pray the rest of Young's new album is more reminiscent of his stronger works, his neo-traditional gems and swoon-worthy ballads. "Aw Naw" will likely set the stage for him to move from B-lister to A-lister - let's just hope he doesn't pull a Luke Bryan when he gets there.
For the precedent it sets/follows: D-
The song itself: C+