Steven Tyler - 'We're All Somebody From Somewhere'
Perhaps better known as the front-man of rock group Aerosmith, Steven Tyler's first full length foray into country music was released yesterday, July 15th. Entitled We're All Somebody From Somewhere, the album features fifteen tracks including two covers, a re-imagining of Aerosmith's Janie's Got A Gun and a version of Piece Of My Heart which was originally recorded by Erma Franklin (and has seen many more cover versions released!)
An intriguing - and at times pleasantly surprising - album, We're All Somebody From Somewhere is at it's strongest when Steven pulls back from the rocky, production heavy tracks that listeners would immediately expect to hear from him and works with different rhythms and overall sounds to begin to form an overall package that may leave many country music fans enjoying parts of the album more than they had necessarily expected to.
I will admit that I was a little sceptical when the album was first announced as to whether it would actually be a viable and enjoyable country music album. Whilst it hasn't blown me away and I could happily do without the majority of the rockier tracks, there are also quite a few tracks on here that are actually quite good and it is certainly nice to see an artist gravitating towards country music rather than moving away from it.
The album has so far seen three singles and Love Is Your Name is the strongest of those in my opinion (the other tracks being Red White & You and We're All Somebody From Somewhere). With an intriguing duo of song-writers behind the track, Love Is Your Name is grounded by a catchy vocal melody in the verses and seems to suit Steven's tone without alienating country fans by being too rocky. The lead single from We're All Somebody From Somewhere, the track is definitely a strong introduction to the album as a whole and, whilst not a perfect song, it feels as though it bridges the (substantial) gap between country music and Aerosmith's brand of rock music relatively well.
Somebody New is another track that is definitely worth listening to. The 'train beat' style drum line immediately makes you want to tap your feet along to a track that at it's core is very listenable. The only unfortunate part of the track is that Steven seems to struggle to put power into his vocal at various points, something that is highlighted due to the comfortable feeling behind the majority of the vocal in Something New.
I would have to suggest that the strongest track on the album is I Make My Own Sunshine. Sounding like a track you would expect to hear in albums from artists like Train or Kristian Bush, the overall reggae feel oddly seems to work well alongside Steven's distinctive tone. Unfortunately however the 'scream' at the end is, whilst done incredibly quickly, a little off-putting against the rest of the track with it's hand-claps and mandolin hook. Interestingly the only solo write on the album, you can also hear song-writer Alyssa Bonagura's version here. Relatively short on lyrics, the way the track has been produced it doesn't feel as though that is highlighted as a bad thing, as a listener you can easily feel yourself drawn along by I Make My Own Sunshine's catchy instrumentalisation - although it should be highlighted that the lyrical message behind the track is very compelling and I am sure it will feel relatable to a lot of people.
The tendency with the rockier tracks is to go a little too much towards the Aerosmith sound rather than simply a rockier country sound. The album's title track for instance is just messy. The opening is intriguing and you're interested to see how the track progresses but it doesn't take long for the first chorus to be introduced and with it the song goes downhill fast. The production is far too heavy and the shouted backing vocals quickly become annoying and contribute to the overall uncomfortable feel behind the track.
Hold On (Won't Let Go) tries to create a 'steampunk' work-song style but the electric modulation on the vocal is done so much that it feels as though the vocal as a whole is completely detracted from, it might have worked a lot better to have only used the technique at a few points rather than throughout the entire track. Whilst Aerosmith fans may embrace the song, I can see country fans quickly skipping it.
The inclusion of Janie's Got A Gun feels a little frustrating. There is so much more that could have been done with the track to tie it into country music and it would have been interesting to have heard the development but it feels like what we have ultimately ended up with here is the original Aerosmith track with a few little tweaks. It, unfortunately, doesn't feel like there is enough within the track to really draw new listeners in, particularly as it is still distinctly grounded within rock music.
1) My Own Worst Enemy - Steven Tyler, Brad Warren, Brett Warren
2) We're All Somebody From Somewhere - Steven Tyler, Jaren Johnston
3) Hold On (Won't Let Go) - Steven Tyler, Jason Boyd, Jared Gutstadt, Jeff Peters
4) It Ain't Easy - Steven Tyler, Cary Barlowe, Nathan Barlowe, Hillary Lindsey
5) Love Is Your Name - Lindsey Lee, Eric Paslay
6) I Make My Own Sunshine - Alyssa Bonagura
7) Gypsy Girl - Steven Tyler, Ross Copperman, David Hodges
8) Somebody New - Steven Tyler, Brett James, Hillary Lindsey, Troy Verges
9) Only Heaven - Steven Tyler, Rhett Akins, Chris DeStefano
10) The Good The Bad The Ugly & Me - Steven Tyler, Brad Warren, Brett Warren
11) Red White & You - Steven Tyler, Nathan Barlowe, Levi Hummon, Jon Vella
12) Sweet Louisiana - Steven Tyler, Cary Barlowe, Nathan Barlowe, Hillary Lindsey
13) What Am I Doin' Right - Steven Tyler, Brad Warren, Brett Warren
14) Janie's Got A Gun - Steven Tyler, Tom Hamilton
15) Piece Of My Heart (feat. The Loving Mary Band) - Bert Berns, Jerry Ragovoy
Whilst Steven will arguably struggle to vocally compare against country contemporaries like Kip Moore and Eric Church, this is still a fairly good album. Probably best to it listen a couple of times to get an idea of the full album and then pick the songs you really like from it as I'm not sure that the whole album will appeal to everybody.