On The Cover – Jerrod Niemann (April/May 2014)

“On my first two albums, I tried to cover all the music I enjoy,” says Jerrod Niemann, who is featured on the cover of MusicRow‘s 2014 InCharge issue. “This time, we mashed it all together and that’s what you do when you’re really attempting to create your own sound. And as it all gelled, I think it brought us into our own pure sound for the first time.”

On High Noon, Niemann continues to pursue the innovative sonic approach that has defined his identity in today’s Country music, while bearing down even harder on the rock-solid songwriting that first brought him to Nashville’s attention. The immediate response to the album’s debut single, “Drink To That All Night,” proves that Niemann’s distinctive style still hits the mark. “My biggest obstacle,” he says, “was to make sure this sounded different from everything else out there right now.”

Jerrod Niemann exploded onto the scene with his chart-topping major-label debut, 2010’s Judge Jerrod & The Hung Jury. The album, on Sea Gayle/Arista Nashville included the No. 1 smash and RIAA-certified Platinum digital single, “Lover, Lover,” and the follow-up Top 5 single, “What Do You Want.” Niemann—who has also written songs for and with such artists as Garth Brooks, Blake Shelton, and Lee Brice—returned in 2012 with the acclaimed, musically adventurous release, Free the Music. All the while, he’s continued playing 200 shows a year on the road.

He credits the advances on High Noon to a new collaborator, producer Jimmie Lee Sloas. As a top bass player, Sloas has worked with everyone from Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood to bluegrass bands and Megadeth. “We’ve been friends for years,” says Niemann, “and I knew he wanted to get into producing. We went in the studio and instantly had a great connection.”

The resulting thirteen songs on High Noon, eight of which Niemann co-wrote, represent a musical blend of Country, pop, and rock with splashes of electronic, forward-looking beats, and a wide emotional spectrum. “Some songs have those haunting melodies and chords—something to scare the kids a little bit!” says Niemann.

And then there’s “Donkey,” an uproarious, swaggering, double-entendre singalong about wrecking a truck and finding alternative, four-legged transportation to the bar. “The first time I heard it, I thought, ‘Oh, goodness,’” Niemann says. “But then I went back and listened a few times and thought, ‘If I don’t record this, I’m gonna end up kicking myself!’ It’s hilarious to me—I was raised in a family that wasn’t afraid to laugh. Every time I played it on the bus, everybody stopped and asked, ‘What is that?!’ So I thought, ‘I’m just gonna roll with it.’”

But most of High Noon returns to a single theme: drinking, partying, having fun.

High Noon represents taking chances,” he says. “We live in a society where a lot of times you’re forced to be the same—all copy-paste—and when you do something different, people dig in their heels.

“So High Noon means go out there and go for it. Get your game face on, walk ten steps, and pull the trigger. It’s the next step into facing the future.”

To purchase MusicRow’s 2014 InCharge issue, or to subscribe to MusicRow, visit musicrow.com.

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