- Ticket 2 Heaven
- You Take My Heart
- Last Chance
- Love Is A Game
- Sherry's On Fire
- Music Man
- Friends and Lovers
- Why (Bonus Track)
Go ahead. Say it. "That ain't a rock record...that's...that's...THAT'S COUNTRY!!!" Tell you what. You call it what you want, but as for me, I'll call it one heck of a record! I mean, come on, the guy has Mick Mars playing guitar on a song (and Tommy Lee popping up in a video...more on that in a second), Ivan Moody and Jason Hook of Five Finger Death Punch, Tyler Connoly of Theory Of A Deadman, and Lzzy Hale of Halestorm on his debut record. His DEBUT record! The guy has some serious firepower loaded up in the part country/part rock double barrels of this record and he flaunts it all over the place!
For those who don't know...and likely don't care...I grew up in Nebraska during the 70s with the Outlaw Country Movement of Waylon, Willie, Kris Kristofferson and others, dreamed of being Johnny Cash, and frequently cited Merle Haggard, CW McCall, and Charlie Daniels as some of my favorite singers of my youth. In the 80s, it was Alabama and Hank Williams, Jr., who you could hear mixed in with AC/DC, Lyrnyrd Skynyrd, Ratt and Bon Jovi, all at the same party. I then spent close to a decade in country radio in the 90s, and while I was still a hard-rocker and a head banger by night, I spent a lot of my days drawn to the edgier, rock-influenced sounds of 90s country, with Travis Tritt, Restless Heart, Little Texas, Aaron Tippin, Confederate Railroad, Pirates of the Mississippi, Chris LeDoux and others being particular favorites. And in the 2000s, I still find myself drawn to good, guitar-driven, rocking country from time-to-time, with Zane Lewis, Brantley Gilbert, Jackson Taylor and the Sinners, and even Jason Aldean being current faves. All this to say that while I never betrayed, or strayed from, my rock n roll heart, there is a part of me that, given the right mood and the right artist, still appreciates the right style of country music.
Cory Marks is the right kind...
This album kicks off on a mostly country foot, albeit a punchy, uptempo one, with "Devil's Grin", which features plenty of driving guitar. Yes, the subject matter is all country, with the country cliche of the Saint-n-Sinner girl drawing the good ol' boy in with her "angel's smile and devil's grin", but Marks puts a rollicking spin on it, whether with the rock guitars or the big, hooky chorus, complete with enough "oh oh ohs" to keep you singing along for some time.
The gears shift hard...and I mean HARD... with the lead single from the record. When I first heard "Outlaws And Outsiders", I have to admit I was hooked instantly. I mean, when a "country" record has Ivan Moody snarling "I was a crazy ass kid, and with all the sh*t I did, I'm lucky to be alive", you can't help but take notice, right? Add in southern-fried country rock legend Travis Tritt (who Marks could easily be a vocal double for in numerous spots on this record), and an all-too-short guitar solo from Mick Mars, and what's not to love? Moody doesn't compromise who he is...at all...and this is the type of song that Tritt always seemed to sneak onto his records back in his hey day, and both work perfectly on this track. As I said, Mars' solo is WAY TOO SHORT...in fact, it's honestly almost too short to even really be considered a true solo, but there is an instant level of credibility that's obtained when you can pull talent of this level all in for one song. Mix in that Marks wrote the song (along with the Churko brothers), and it's all the more impressive to me. Honestly, if you're bitching about this track being "too country", then you just as well stop reading right here, because this is straight up hard southern rock with a twinge of metal mixed in. Need proof?
"Blame It On The Double" is an excellent foot-stomping country rocker of the highest order, with Tyler Connoly of Theory of a Deadman sharing co-lead vocals, and Jason Hook, formerly of FFDP absolutely scorching the strings on his solo. Once again, the subject matter is one that is shared by both genres, although the lyrical approach is more country than rock, but that really shouldn't matter. This track kicks ass, period, and is far more Donnie than Marie Osmond (don't get the reference? Google it.) Don't believe it could work? Check out the video below and keep an eye out for Tommy Lee dropping by, as well...
Rating: Call it what you will, I call it crankable! Crank Marks and Co. to a 8!
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