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Jana Kramer, ‘Jana Kramer’ – Album Review

Jana Kramer
Warner Nashville

She’s beautiful and talented, but where Jana Kramer really shines on her debut country album is in her ability to select songs. Not only has she found 12 tightly-packaged, colorful ballads and pop-country cuts to make her own, but she’s found songs that fit her like the perfect pair of broken-in cowboy boots.

‘Jana Kramer’ (in stores June 5) is perhaps the most surprising album of the year. She and producer Scott Hendricks do a nice job avoiding common newbie pitfalls like crafting an album that “has a little something for everybody.” With songs like ‘I Hope it Rains,’ ‘Why Ya Wanna‘ and ‘Good as You Were Bad,’ we’re introduced to a woman that has loved and lost, but still believes she can love again. The repetition of the theme (‘Whiskey,’ ‘King of Apology’ and ‘Over You By Now’ also tackle heartbreak in different ways) never goes monochrome. Each songs comes with a fresh approach and varied emotion.

It’s clear Kramer had an idea of who she was as a singer before stepping into the recording studio. As a result, we’re able to not just enjoy her songs, but to feel as if we’re getting to know the woman behind them. This takes many artists years — or at least multiple albums.

There is at least one moment on ‘Jana Kramer’ that’s too sweet (‘Goodby California’ is like a country Pixie Stick), and maybe some listeners won’t care for one or two of the ballads. Indeed, Kramer’s specialty is the mid to uptempo songs, with the dark and gloomy ‘When You’re Lonely’ being an exception. This song is just the hand to the face that the project needs.

It remains to be seen how much the ‘One Tree Hill’ actress will commit to country music. Country fans are loyal, but have been down this road before (Julianne Hough). With a project this good, leaving us for another acting appointment would feel like … well, how Kramer feels on many of the songs on ‘Jana Kramer.’

4 Stars

Buy 'Jana Kramer' on iTunes

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