Album Review – Lauren Alaina’s ‘Road Less Traveled’

Author: Leon Blair

Who? – Lauren Alaina from Rossville, Georgia
Album Release Date / Producer? – January 27th, 2017 / busbee…..joy
Genre? – Country/Country-Pop
Opinion On The Artist’s Discography Overall Up To This Point? – While Lauren did release her debut album, Wildflower in 2011, I unfortunately have never anything on the album besides the singles. From what I’ve heard from others though, it’s apparently a solid slice of country-pop.

Where Might Other People Know This Act From?- Lauren was the runner-up on season ten of American Idol, losing out to fellow country music artist Scotty McCreery. Lauren has also released several singles to country radio prior to this new album.

Is There Any Sort Of Event Surrounding the Making Of This Album? – Yes, this album was said to be a personal one for Lauren, dealing with several events in Lauren’s life. We’ll get to that later on, but other than that, this album is her first album since 2011’s Wildflower, so congratulations are in order to her for finally being able to release this.

Can You Give A Brief Overview Of This New Project? – I’m late to the party on covering this album (shocker), but really, I’m going to echo what a lot of others have said about this album. It’s country-pop, sure, and that might alienate some of you, but honestly this is one of the most refreshing country-pop albums I’ve heard in a long time, balancing some light-hearted affair with songs that actually have a lot of weight behind them in their lyricism. I don’t quite love it, and we’ll get to why, but this is a solid album that won me over on Lauren as an artist.

What Are The Low Points / Nitpicks Of The Project? – Really, the low points come across as little things rather than one large, overarching problem. Well alright, I suppose busbee’s production style sort of negates what I just said, but still, it’s easy to spot where the good and bad come into play on this album. On that note of busbee’s production though, it is admittedly what ruins some of this album for me. Songs like “Next Boyfriend”, and “Queen Of Hearts” aren’t bad necessarily, but they both suffer from some clumsy lyricism (especially “Boyfriend”), as well as cluttered production that more often than not drowns out Lauren’s vocals.

Now, unfortunately that sort of extends to one of the highlights (well, what everyone has deemed as one) as well. “Doin’ Fine” is a damn good song, and I’ll talk more about it in a bit, but I also can’t help but feel that the midtempo vibe coupled with the loud production on the chorus makes the song not feel as evolved as I had hoped it could be. I like it but I don’t love it, but again, more on that later.

Other than that, the only other song I didn’t care for all that much was “My Kinda People” for feeling too plain to really feel necessary for the project. It’s not bad per se, but there’s nothing that stands out about it in any way, and the whole theme of wanting to party just feels so done to death at this point.

What Are The High Points / Praiseworthy Elements Of The Project? – Before we dive into any individual tracks, I do want to point out that the biggest redeeming factor of this album is Lauren herself. She’s a talented vocalist, and when given the chance to prove it she more than delivers not just as a vocal powerhouse, but also as an emotive interpreter as well.

On that note of emotion though, we need to talk about the lyrical content, by far the best part about this album. My issue with pop-country has never been with the sub-genre in and of itself. No, my issue has always been that it can feel too polished and fake, never willing to dive into any deeper territory beyond just fun party themes. Now, I get that that’s a trademark of pop music, but for country-pop, it’s nice to see a proper marriage of the two genres, with the sound being a little slicker and the lyrical content diving a little deeper.

Like I said, the album goes into some personal territory for Lauren, and that’s evident right away on the opener, “Doin’ Fine” where Lauren catches us up with what’s been going on in her life and how she’s fine now. It’s a brand new day, and while you can’t forget the past you can use to learn and forge a better tomorrow. I certainly get that sentiment. “Three” touches upon a lot of the same sentiments, and there’s a reason many people (including myself) have crowned this as a highlight. We’ve heard the stories about life on the road and how it affects them personally. For musicians these have to be the toughest sort of songs to sing, especially when it’s a song like “Three”. We all have regrets in life, and we all wish we could go back and re-do certain things in life not for the joy of reliving them, but to make things right. Lauren exclaims how much she missed at home with her family such as the birth of her nephew, going to church with her family, and well, missing family in general. She’s even honest in admitting she did it all just for three minutes on the radio. This is a tough business, and to write a song like this with such brutally honest framing took a lot of guts. Damn good song.

Along the lines of personal songs though, we need to talk about “Same Day Different Bottle”, a song inspired by Lauren’s father’s alcohol abuse and how it affected her growing up. Again, much like “Three” there’s no punches pulled in the framing here, and that steel guitar that comes creeping up throughout the song adds the perfect touch. “Pretty” alludes to Lauren’s eating disorder and is framed in a way that shows her giving advice to others to not be afraid of who they are. Coming from someone else, this may have honestly been too cheesy to really work, but again, the honesty that it stems from is what makes it work so damn well, and as someone who was bullied for his weight in grade school, I can relate to the overarching sentiment as well.

Aside from that, I really loved the song, “Think Outside The Boy” for bringing in some really clever writing (with a great hook to boot) as well as a nice rhythm that’s bolstered by some light banjo. It sounds great and that’s all I really need to say. “Crashin’ The Boys Club” is a song that many have panned for feeling too plastic and uneventful to really work on this album, but hey, at least it’s got some real energy behind it with the bass rhythm and again, fun vocal performance from Lauren. Do I relate to the lyrical sentiment of the song? No, but it’s too fun to dislike, I dig the hell out of it.

Closing Thoughts? – So overall, while I don’t have much else to add other than what others have already said about this album, I did want another voice of praise to support this album. Again, it’s not often we get a mainstream country album with this much heart behind it. If you’ve heard the single “Road Less Traveled” and have had second thoughts about hearing this, don’t. Even if pop-country isn’t really your thing, songs such as “Think Outside The Boy” and “Same Day Different People” are damn great in their own right to possible change your mind. Overall, solid work.

Can You Summarize Who Might Like This Album? – Fans of Lauren Alaina, and also probably fans who like more mainstream sounding country that has some real heart behind it.

Are There Any Albums This Reminds You Of? – There’s definitely some Carrie Underwood influence here, but really the personal nature of this album leads me to answer “no” to this question.

Best Song(s)? – Think Outside The Boy”, “Same Day Different Bottle”, “Pretty”, “Three”, “Crashin’ The Boys Club”
Worst (Or Weakest) Songs? – “Next Boyfriend”
Where Can I Buy This Album? – ​​http://laurenalaina.richardsandsouthern.com/lauren-alaina-cd-road-less-traveled.html

Grade: B


3 thoughts on “Album Review – Lauren Alaina’s ‘Road Less Traveled’

    1. I’ve been bad about responding to comments and commenting on other blogs lately, but I did hear the song finally. Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll have to hear the rest of her debut soon, there’s a place for pop-country, and it seems like Lauren is filling that slot.

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  1. I’ll admit that her radio song was an eye-roller for me. I remember the Carrie-ish country girl from American Idol,yet here was this pop country product with a Hulk Hogan orange spray tan (and what road is “more travelled” than changing one’s look, sound, and marketing to chase the current radio trends by hiring busbee,etc?). But, I apparently dismissed her too soon, because you’re right that there’s some meat in the album. I’m not the target audience here, but she has a good voice and some heartfelt songwriting that pop country often lacks.

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