Jon Pardi – Heartache Medication Review: We take a listen to the Californian’s first album in three years
With three year’s passing since releasing his sophomore record, California Sunrise, it’s fair to say that the news of a new release from Jon Pardi was met with great excitement from fans. As one of the new wave of artists who use traditional instrumentation and classic country subjects in his music, Pardi has probably timed his latest released perfectly. The likes of Luke Combs are hitting great heights and sweeping up awards ceremonies. People are finding their thirst for more traditional sounds starting to be quenched again, so one would expect Pardi’s latest effort, Heartache Medication, to hit all the right notes.
From the get-go, Pardi tips his hat (pun intended) to that aforementioned thirst. Old Hat is all about keeping those old-school traditions alive and asks “when did old fashioned become so out of fashion?” With big guitars and plenty of fiddle, it feels like Jon Pardi is making a statement. You see, he’s not saying ban new country, more asking why can’t these things exist together?
That said, Jon manages to blend modern country with traditional country in a perfect way here. Sure, the title track is straight-up George Strait, but it also has the catchy hook that Music Row seems to require. The lead single was the ideal tone-setter for this album, it’s fun, it’s catchy, it’s full of pedal steel and fiddle. This is Jon Pardi doing what he does.
Hit skip and things just get better. Nobody Leaves a Girl Like That is truly irresistible arena filling country music. The traditional instrumentation blends with big guitars and a huge, emotion-filled, sing-a-long chorus. Throw in a superb guitar solo and you have all the ingredients for a modern country classic. You can pretty much copy and paste these sentiments for Ain’t Always the Cowboy.
There are plenty of nods to the old-school, with the intro to Me & Jack giving both lyrical and musical nods to Johnny Cash. I’m always hesitant about songs that name check the Man in Black and Jack Daniels, but Pardi shows his class in nailing it.
Another high point of the record is Don’t Blame it on Whiskey, a song that provides a welcome break from the mid-tempo songs and features Lauren Alaina on vocals. It also has Eric Church and Miranda Lambert among the songwriters. Pardi’s delivery is spot on, as you can hear The Chief shining through in this one… it could be him and Joanna Cotton on vocals.
Tied One On and Buy That Man a Beer are modern honky tonk songs at their finest, whilst Pardi shows what years of playing the undercard have done for him with arena rockers like Call Me Country, a huge song with an even bigger guitar solo. Just to show he can do it all, Just Like Old Times is a country ballad to match anything from yesteryear and Love Her Like She’s Leaving evokes the country sounds of the 90’s.
As Pardi rounds the album out with the banjo-led Starlight, we’ve managed to paint a picture of an artist who is primed for headlining arenas. Don’t get me wrong, the album isn’t perfect. There are a lot of mid-tempo tunes, and Pardi’s voice may be a little monotone for some to get on board with, but what he does show is a willingness to make music that sticks to his country roots without being labelled ‘throwback’. Whilst bands such as Midland are lumbered with that title, and artists like Zac Brown… well, the less we say about ZBB the better… flounder about trying to be different, it all feels natural from Jon Pardi.
The opening track, Old Hat, is the only one with a hint of a click track or electronic beat. It wouldn’t be an issue if he did do that, but this writer is sick of artists surrendering their integrity to fit within the Nashville model. Pardi is smarter than that, he’s stuck to what he does best, learned from the likes of Dierks and Miranda on the road, and is about to start crashing the awards show parties and arenas with more genuinely good country.
- Old Hat
- Heartache Medication
- Nobody Leaves a Girl Like That
- Ain’t Always the Cowboy
- Me & Jack
- Don’t Blame it on Whiskey
- Tied One On
- Oughta Know That
- Tequila Little Time
- Buy That Man a Beer
- Call Me Country
- Just Like Old Times
- Love Her Like She’s Leaving
Nobody Leaves a Girl Like That, Don’t Blame It On Whiskey, Call Me Country
Six Shooter Rating
8.5 out of 10