Jon Stone and Kristy Osmunson were both accomplished songwriters before they met and formed American Young. Becoming acquainted at a Lee Brice concert, the duo released their self-titled EP back in 2014 teasing what was to come from their debut full-length album. The duo performed at C2C: Country to Country earlier this year and this weekend they are performing as part of the first Nashville Meets London festival. Last week the band released their debut album AY.
When I reviewed American Young’s self-titled EP back in March, one of the concerns I had about the band was that they lacked an original identity. Three of the six tracks from that EP have made it onto the album alongside 9 new original songs and after listening to the full-length album I’m still not wholly convinced. The frustrating thing with American Young is that they have moments that border on brilliance such as the acoustic riff driven Hometown Girl, which packs in real emotion and a stunning vocal from Osmunson, but those moments are hampered by more generic tracks such as Party In The Dark.
It’s clear that Stone and Osmunson have a natural chemistry. When they come together and harmonise, such as on the dreamy Slow Ride, they really excel and it makes you long for more moments like that. Both members of the duo bring something different to the table so it’s a shame really that much of the album does little to show you who they truly are and what they have to offer.
The one area where American Young excel is songwriting. With both members of the band having found success as songwriters prior to the group that should come as little surprise. They can craft interesting tales about coming-of-age, love and life but where they are let down is the rather pedestrian instrumentation and arrangements. Too often they sound bland like on American Dream or it gets a little too cheesy as on Point of View.
Country music is a crowded genre and you really need to bring something different to the table to stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately for me American Young don’t do that on AY and it feels like a missed opportunity. The duo play it far too safe and if they came on the radio I’m not sure I’d stop and take notice. There is huge potential here but American Young need to define their sound and push what it is that makes them unique.
Track Listing: 1. Be Here 2. American Dream 3. Love Is War 4. Point Of View 5. Party In The Dark 6. Better On You 7. Eighteen 8. God Sends A Train 9. Slow Ride 10. Soldier’s Wife (Don’t Want You To Go) 11. Hometown Girl 12. Something To You Record Company: Curb Records Release Date: 5th August 2016