Randy Houser ‘How Country Feels' (Stoney Creek Records)
From the first song, it's clear that Randy Houser set out to make a more commercial product with his third album, “How Country Feels.”
Fortunately, the Mississippi native also managed to craft an interesting and eclectic one.
The singer-songwriter gets back to the good-timing vibe of his breakout hit “Boots On” with album opener “Runnin' Outta Moonlight,” “Growin' Younger” and “Absolutely Nothing,” which fit right in among the party-hearty Southern rock and pop anthems ruling the country charts these days. He's already notched a top 10 hit with the title track, one of those trendy country-rock ballads that doubles as an affectionate tribute to rural living.
Not surprisingly, though, the most interesting songs on his Stoney Creek Records debut are the ones that reflect Houser's honky-tonk and outlaw country roots: the heartrending breakup yarn “The Singer,” the emotional storytelling collection “The Power of a Song” and the raw autobiographical tale “Route 3 Box 250 D,” which chronicles his difficult upbringing.
Houser shows off his soulful side with the piano ode “Along for the Ride,” which he co-wrote with Zac Brown and Levi Lowrey, and flexes his blues-rock muscles with “Sunshine on the Line,” which he penned with Dallas Davidson.
The more modern production spotlights Houser's deep, appealing drawl on the power ballads “Wherever Love Goes,” a duet with label mate Kristy Lee Cook,” and “Like a Cowboy,” a swoon-inducing neo-traditional country highlight.
— Brandy McDonnell