American Young - 'American Young'
Kristy Osmunson and Jon Stone form country duo American Young. Currently on a short European tour and fresh from performances at this year's Country To Country Festival the duo have been incredibly well received by European fans (check out my interview with them and subsequent live review from the festival here and here). Debut single Love Is War is set to get a UK release on April 22nd, with their EP already available on iTunes and Amazon (it was originally released on June 24 2014 in the US).
There are two slightly different versions of the EP available - both have debut single Love Is War alongside Ain't Looking For Love, God Send's A Train and Soldier's Wife (Don't Want You To Go) with different additional tracks - and the one I will be reviewing here is available from their website which includes Saturday Night rather than Wasn't Gonna Drink Tonight and a cover of The Thunder Rolls.
Haunting debut single Love Is War opens the EP. The only track on the release that isn't co-written by either Kristy or Jon, it does however, interestingly, suit them very well. The stripped back production adds to the track, with a guitar hook penned by Jon taking the lead alongside a soft drum line and both Kristy and Jon sound completely comfortable, managing to easily make a song that they haven't written their own.
The real stand-out moment for me is, without a doubt, God Sends A Train. Kristy takes lead vocals on a track that is incredibly personal to her with minimal vocal input from Jon and you can really hear the emotion pouring out of her vocal. Lyrically the track progresses through a very powerful story with the very short chorus of "sometimes God sends a whisper, carried in the rain, when we don't want to listen, sometimes God sends a train" being the only instance where we hear Jon's deeper tone which adds another dynamic to the chorus. Whilst the verses have a similar feel to the production throughout, the chorus builds in strength every time it is heard, fitting in well with the path the lyrics take and giving an overall sense of strength that works really well. Stunning track.
Jon has the rockier edge to his vocal out of the duo and takes the lead vocal on two tracks, Ain't Looking For Love and Saturday Night. Both tracks have a similar rocky feel but out of the two I prefer Saturday Night. The opening instrumentalisation immediately makes you want to tap your feet along to the infectiously catchy beat and Kristy's fiddle playing works really with the rest of the production. I imagine this is a great track to hear live, whilst it doesn't have as much lyrical depth as other tracks on the EP that doesn't really matter in this instance and you really get the impression that Jon and Kristy had fun with it.
1) Love Is War - Billy Montana, Kylie Sackley, Jonathan Singleton
2) Ain't Looking For Love - Phillip Lammonds, John Ozier, Jon Stone
3) God Sends A Train - Kristy Osmunson, Bob Regan
4) Soldier's Wife (Don't Want You To Go) - Billy Montana, Hannah Blaylock, Jon Stone
5) Saturday Night - Lee Brice, Jon Stone, Kristy Osmunson
This EP is an incredibly impressive starting point for American Young. They also currently have twelve tracks on Spotify with a few of them having accompanying videos on YouTube - a mix of some of the EP tracks alongside other, newer tracks and the brilliant Point Of View, which looks set to be the next single.
Jon and Kristy's harmonies are incredibly tight and they prove here that they are also talented song-writers and musicians as well as vocalists. I would honestly say American Young are the strongest country duo around at the moment, they made their mark on the genre with their brilliant EP (which I would recommend everybody purchase) and look set to continue releasing great music, certainly the tracks on Spotify and YouTube are sure to leave everybody incredibly excited for a full-length album (which I am!). In my opinion they are set to be huge, without a doubt artists to keep an eye on!