Album Review – Jon Pardi’s ‘The B-Sides, 2011-2014’ EP

Jon Pardi The B Sides

Start paying attention to Jon Pardi. I feel like I need to get on a rooftop and shout this out through a megaphone. Last year Pardi introduced himself to the country music world with his debut album Write You A Song, a solid country album that I rightly praised. It was quietly one of the best albums released in mainstream country last year. I say quietly because it felt like nobody took notice of this album when they should have taken notice. My fellow critics seemed to be pretty quiet about it (they shouldn’t have). This is probably because Pardi hasn’t had a lot of success at radio because his singles, besides one bro-country like song, have been great. Pardi is making the right music at the wrong time. If it was released in the late 90s or early to mid-2000s, Pardi would have blown up and became a star. But alas he’s now going head-to-head with disco country and EDM pop music. Despite the current environment, Pardi has now followed up his debut album with a new EP titled The B-Sides, 2011-2014. And it’s even better than Write You A Song.

The EP begins with “Fightin’ The Fool,” where Pardi croons about having to always fight the fool within himself. It always seems to rear its ugly head at the worst time, causing heartache and pain for not just the people around, but for himself too. It’s a great story about a person fighting their inner demons and just always falling short of controlling them. The fiddle and steel guitar are prominent throughout the song, just like much of his debut album Write You A Song. See why country radio doesn’t play him? Because it’s country music and it has meaning. On “Over My Head” Pardi sings of a woman who’s really over his head, but continues to fall under her spell over and over again. Every time he wants to get away from her, she pulls him back in. It paints the picture of a seductive woman who may be a little too wild for the man who can’t handle her, but still gets pulled by the allure. Again the instrumentation has a very Bakersfield-like sound and it’s quite pleasant.

“Drinkin’ With Me” is a rollicking, hell-raising drinking song. Don’t worry it isn’t a drinking just to drink song, like many mainstream country songs. As the man in the song says, he’s been working his ass all week and his woman is gone, so he needs to blow off some steam. Also I would like to point out there’s a subtle line about how he isn’t going to drive his truck, since drunk driving isn’t responsible. You hear that Tyler Farr? The piano, pedal steel guitar and violins drive this upbeat track. This is the kind of song that makes you want to get up and move your feet. It sounds exactly like something Dwight Yoakam would record, who I think Pardi has some similarities with. This is one of my favorite tracks on the EP.

The next song is “Back on the Backroads,” which might make some listeners cringe when reading the title. But despite the bro-country themes present in the song, I don’t hate it. Remember what I said about Pardi being in the wrong time? Well this is definitely the case here, as I think this song would be viewed much more favorably before the bro-country era. I think what makes me not dislike this song is Pardi’s charismatic and great vocals along with once again great instrumentation, especially the fiddle play. I think Pardi is planning on releasing this as his next single and if it can get him on radio, then this song is palatable. Zac Brown Band used “Toes” to get airplay, so this could be Pardi’s “Toes” song. It’s the weakest track on the EP easily, but I find it to be decent and listenable.

“Rainy Night Song” is the first love ballad on the EP and Pardi does an excellent job with it. The premise of the song is the man is sitting at his house while it’s pouring rain outside and it makes him wish his former love was there with him, as he sits there alone. He acknowledges they broke up for the best, but he still can’t shake her off his mind no matter what he does. The fiddles weep and the mandolin is present throughout, giving the song the perfect tone of soberness, yet hope. I definitely want to hear more love ballads from Pardi in the future, as he knocks this one out of the park. The last song on the EP is “Borrowed Time,” a song that explores how short life is and how we only have so much time before it’s all over. This might be Pardi’s best song yet, as everything in this song perfectly works together. The lyrics are honest, heartfelt and to the point. It has a very similar vibe to Dierks Bentley’s “Here on Earth.” This is a song I recommend you hear for yourself, as words don’t properly describe it. It’s the kind of song that will make people respect and appreciate Pardi’s talent.

While everyone is rightly paying attention to two stellar releases this month, Chris Stapleton’s Traveller and Whitey Morgan’s Sonic Ranch, do not forget about this EP either. It deserves your attention as well, as it is my favorite release from a mainstream country artist in 2015. It’s that damn good. To think these were the songs that didn’t make Pardi’s debut album Write You A Song and they’re this great. It really makes me excited to hear his sophomore album, which will hopefully garner more attention and acclaim if Pardi continues to make country music like this. I highly recommend you check this out, as it’s worthy of much praise. Jon Pardi is the country artist we need in the mainstream right now and good on Alan Jackson for choosing him for his tour, as I’m sure Pardi will pick up a lot of new fans. Hell Jackson might be the only one for the rest of the year in mainstream country who can top The B-Sides, 2011-2014 EP. Seriously go buy this and start paying attention to Jon Pardi.

Grade: 9/10

18 thoughts on “Album Review – Jon Pardi’s ‘The B-Sides, 2011-2014’ EP

  1. Zack May 26, 2015 / 11:09 am

    Hey you gave it the exact same grade i did! I agree, Pardi is solely underrated. I feel so bad because he would have been huge in the 90’s with these songs. My personal favorites are Fightin The Fool, Borrowed Time, and Rainy Night Song

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Raymond May 26, 2015 / 11:10 am

    I listened to this once and OMG I LOVE IT!!!! Sorry it’s just amazing of how Jon Pardi who is so much more talented gets put aside. Especially love Borrowed Time. Really if come June or July if Jon Pardi isn’t A-List for ranking mainstream artists than I don’t know who’ll qualify for your guys A-List.

    Also the album is Write You A Song. Regardless I’m excited to see what else he releases.

    Like

    • Josh Schott May 26, 2015 / 11:17 am

      Thanks for pointing that out. I fixed it. What can I say I get excited when I review great music like this. Haha.

      I can assure you Pardi is near the top. Alan Jackson choosing him for his tour and this EP solidifies it, as I wanted to make sure his debut album wasn’t a fluke. I knew it wouldn’t be, but you can never be too sure.

      Like

      • Raymond May 26, 2015 / 11:23 am

        Ok phew! When are those rankings gonna be in if imagine within a few weeks it’s fine. Also do you guys plan on reviewing the new Jake Owen song (it’s awful) and Hunter Hayes new song as well. One last thing Josh the mainstream chart you know how it’s ugly now it’s basically gonna look like a horror movie Eric Paslay is for sure leaving this week as Gloriana Tyler Farr and Keith Urban songs will leave. Mickey Guyton won’t even hit the Top 30. The pulse is gonna get ugly. I’m scared!

        Like

  3. Derek Hudgin May 26, 2015 / 11:28 am

    It’s sad how underrated Jon Pardi is. He’s one of the best in mainstream country right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. RG May 26, 2015 / 2:17 pm

    I got worried recently that Jon was fading into the background more than was deserved and. Glad he released this EP to put him back in the minds of country fans.

    I have thoroughly enjoyed these six songs! Heck it’s better than most artists main album material.

    Good for Jon, keep it up. Love his style of music.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Noah Eaton May 27, 2015 / 2:45 am

    I for one have been trumpeting Jon Pardi as the real deal since he released “Write You A Song”, and I am joyed he’s finally starting to be taken more seriously.

    I’ve also repeatedly stated that Jon Pardi is just the sort of entertainer Florida Georgia Line in particular should look to for inspiration in where they take their career from here on out. I’ve said that Pardi’s vocal is quite reminiscent of Tyler Hubbard’s but without the Auto-Tune and more authentically hickory. So it isn’t hard to at least imagine Florida Georgia Line learning the lesson from “Dirt” as a career song that’s even more important than their breakthrough hit “Cruise”……………and then 1) seeing the writing on the wall that the Joey Moi sound has a limited shelf life and its expiration date is not far away, 2) choosing to ditch Joey Moi as the primary producer, 3) hook up with Pardi’s producer Bart Butler and, if they insist on continued mainstream radio ubiquity, also look to perhaps Ross Copperman or Mark Bright for a polished mainstream country that nonetheless wades the two genres well hand in hand and 4) ditch the likes of Rodney Clawson, Chris Tompkins, Cary Barlowe, Sarah Buxton and Jesse Frasure…………..and reach out to both tried-and-true and up-and-coming songwriter folks like Casey Beathard, Eric Paslay, Ryan Tyndell and the aforementioned Butler and Copperman as co-writers for sessions.

    I know Florida Georgia Line have already stated in interviews they want Joey Moi to produce all their albums because he is “the wizard” who knows how to make everything “sound big”. But I think the key to their longevity is understanding not to confuse sounding big with being bombastic. “What I Can’t Put Down” comes to live in the chorus and sounds big, yet allows to naturally build up. Same with much of Dierks Bentley’s “Riser”.

    Also, they don’t have to confuse maturity with never being immature again. “Trash A Hotel Room” is such a fun Jon Pardi song, and undoubtedly immature, but still comes across as dignified because he plays it straight with a charismatic and professional spirit. And the same rings true with “Drinkin’ With Me” and “Back on the Backroads” here. I’ve repeatedly said that I don’t consider all bro-country bad. Bro-country CAN be most enjoyable IF it eschews the misogynistic undertones that unfortunately spoil a majority of the apple cart, is actually in a major key so it sets the mood right, has some authentic country instrumentation backing it up, and features a warm, charismatic vocal performance. Billy Currington was arguably bro-country before bro-country was coined as a term, and I enjoyed many of his pre-“Hey Girl” bro songs. Same with Dierks Bentley. And you can bet Jon Pardi epitomizes bro-country done right.

    Florida Georgia Line can keep writing and performing plenty of fun, immature songs for years on end…………….and they can do this while also maturing as entertainers by looking to Jon Pardi as an example. The same can definitely apply to the other purveyors of the sub-genre.

    *

    As for Jon Pardi, I have to say I’m quite cautiously optimistic that he’s insistent on remaining true to himself and his sound as he looks ahead to his full-length sophomore album. He wouldn’t have went through all of the trouble lobbying for the release of the EP, let alone fight for absolutely generous flourishes of pedal steel and dobro on “Write You A Song”, if he wasn’t. It’s a statement in itself.

    Easily deserves the grade you’ve given it, and trust me: even if Pardi’s radio fortunes don’t improve, he will remain a name worthy of watching.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. theknightswhosayni4 May 27, 2015 / 6:53 am

    I’ve been saying for years that Jon Pardi is the real deal! I am hoping and praying he breaks out and goes huge! Honestly, THIS should be the face of country music instead of Luke Bryan. It’s a shame Nashville doesn’t see talent.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. alex hoffman June 9, 2015 / 11:58 pm

    Love reading reviews like this about Jon. I have been a huge fan of his for the last 2 years and cannot stress enough how underrated he is. Glad someone else sees how good he is. Can’t wait for his sophomore album. Love reading your articles. #PardiAnimal

    Liked by 1 person

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