The Cadillac Three – Jaren Johnston, Neil Mason and Kelby Ray – released their self-titled debut album in 2012. Signed to Big Machine Records, the trio achieved their best chart placement to date with their second album, Bury Me In My Boots, in 2016. The album peaked at number 5 and charted within the Top 40 on the US Billboard 200. 2017’s Legacy gave the band their second Top 20 album and it gave them a platform to tour outside the US. In the past few years the band has built a strong audience here in the UK and with a Main Stage appearance at C2C: Country to Country in March, their efforts have clearly paid off. Before that comes around, the band release their fourth studio album Country Fuzz.
Never ones to want to be confined to one genre, The Cadillac Three continue to blend genres and put their own stamp on them with Country Fuzz. Part Southern Rock, part Country, part Funk and dare we say part Pop, the album pushes the boundaries of genre even further. There’s even a nod to their critics on Labels, where Jaren sings about not judging a record by its cover and pushing back against being labelled. The album opens with the carefree Country of Bar Round Here, which could easily fit into the 90s revival that’s currently going on in the genre. It’s a strong start and it’s the kind of song that’s going to go down a storm at their live shows.
With Country Fuzz, The Cadillac Three never want you to get comfortable. They leap from the 90s Country of Bar Round Here to a funky groove-laden rock-tinged number on The Jam that you can’t help but feel Prince would have been proud of. It’s a stark contrast but that’s what the band is all about – making the music they want to make free from restriction and expectation. It’s been clear from the tracks released prior to the album that The Cadillac Three are operating in their own lane and variety is most definitely the order of the day here.
Hard Out Here For a Country Boy enlists Chris Janson and Travis Tritt for a fun, uptempo track, Slow Rollin’ leans fully into Southern Rock as the band wield distorted guitars and push a heavy beat, and Crackin’ Cold Ones With the Boys is a hand-clap filled party anthem that’s going to blow the roof off The O2 Arena come March. Raising Hell is one of the most interesting tracks here with more of a Southern Gothic feel at times. The shimmering guitars bring to mind How Soon is Now by The Smiths and Jaren’s gritty vocal will make you feel a little bit tingly.
The variety across Country Fuzz is impressive. Back Home switches between gentle acoustic verses to raucous choruses, Dirt Road Nights has an almost 80s electro beat that opens out into a strong melody, and Jack Daniels’ Heart is a swagger-filled uptempo number that is sure to be adopted by line dancing groups the world over. The closest the band gets to a ballad is on album closer Long After Last Call, which still has a decent beat and intricate instrumentation that grabs your attention.
At 15 tracks long, you may be expecting to find a few songs to skip but that’s not the case with Country Fuzz. There’s something so infectious about The Cadillac Three and you tap into a whole new connection with them once you’ve seen them live. You can’t listen to this record without thinking how it’s going to sound live, and that’s very exciting. No one else in the genre is making the music The Cadillac Three is and Country Fuzz is their finest collection to date. Cohesive, varied and hugely enjoyable, it’s criminal that the band isn’t dominating the charts over in the US.
Track list: 1. Bar Round Here 2. The Jam 3. Hard Out Here For a Country Boy (feat. Chris Janson & Travis Tritt) 4. Slow Rollin’ 5. All the Makin’s of a Saturday Night 6. Crackin’ Cold Ones With the Boys 7. Labels 8. Raise Hell 9. Back Home 10. Dirt Road Nights 11. Blue El Camino 12. Jack Daniels’ Heart 13. Why Ya Gotta Go Out Like That 14. Heat 15. Whiskey and Smoke 16. Long After Last Call Record label: Big Machine Release date: 7th February 2020 Buy Country Fuzz