Album Review: John Oates’ “Good Road to Follow”

John Oates’ solo CD, “Good Road to Follow,” started out as a bunch of singles, but when the fans were anxious for a CD, John put them all in one place.  It’s a 3-disc set, and he calls the discs “routes,” so it’s Route 1, Route 2, and Route 3. He made each song at different places with different people and musicians. This could be either saying three approaches to writing an album or different routes for how a song could sound. John’s ability to play and write music outside his comfort zone really shows his talent, especially since he does an amazing job of performing the different styles. He has such an amazing passion for music, and is going strong! His passion fires up everyone he produces music with and the outcome is always a treasure!

“Stone Cold Love” sounds so different than any other John Oates song. This song opens with John saying, “We’re going to do a song that you never heard before,” and that definitely rings true!  This song is definitely not what one thinks of when they hear “John Oates.” It’s a little more rock-feeling and edgy than what many fans expect from him. It proves that he is a well-rounded musician and that he is able to learn new styles well. This also keeps his fans interested. So many artists will play the same style over and over, which can be ok if that’s what fans want, but that gets boring for the fans and for the performer alike. The feel of the song reminds sounds like a song that could be played at a basketball game. It’s really catchy. I love the line “Stone cold love, I’m freezing then I’m burning up.” This song live was phenomenal.

“The Head That Wears the Crown” is awesome! The phrase which is the center of the chorus is “It’s a heavy head that wears the crown.” This was originally in Shakespeare who said “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” At first listen, this song resembles a more mature “Rich Girl”: “Never known nothin’ bout bad luck,” “Never seen nothing but a good, good time.” This song talks about having a great deal of wealth and responsibility is difficult and doesn’t make you better than everyone else. The use of “fool’s gold” can imply that the person looks like he/she has it all together, but is a fake.

“Pushing a Rock Uphill” is such a great song! It is real and relatable. We all have had moments and experiences where we feel like we’re “pushing a rock uphill,” and that we keep pushing until we get what we want, even though we may want to give up! This song is so mellow and chill, making it relaxing and calming to the listener. The lyrics sound like they are in conversation with the listener, engaging the listener and making them feel more connected to the song.

“Believe in Me” is super catchy and fun!! Both John and Bekka Bramlett sound awesome on this track. I love the jazzy/soulful feel to it. The listener can tell by the vocalists that this song was a lot of fun to work on and perform! This song, at first, sounds like it is going to be more of a rock song, but by the time the verse comes along, it has more of a jazz sound. The lyrics sound like some kind of relationship where one person is trying to get the other to see that they are meant to be together. Oates and Bramlet have similar styled voices and they sound awesome together.

“High Maintenance” is a song that Oates collaborated with Hot Chelle Rae on. This song is catchy and relatable. It has a pop feel to it, but the lyrics are more intelligent than most pop songs, which allow this song to appeal to an older audience. John’s collaboration with Hot Chelle Rae attracts younger listeners. The plays on words throughout the song are humorous, but if you do not catch on right away, you miss the punch.

“Close” is so unique compared to any other song. The feel of it is awesome, though it is difficult to describe. The lyrics seem to describe a scene of a person meeting a celebrity they look up to. Perhaps this tells the story of someone meeting John, or John meeting the artists from this album since they are artists he has wanted to work with. John’s voice on this track is incredible, and he sounds passionate about the story of the lyrics.

“Stand Strong” is one of the more rock-sounding songs on this album, and it has a different sound than what listeners expect from Oates. This song is one of the few on this CD that includes background singers, and they are added in a way that flows well with everything else going on in the song. The message of the song is to stand strong through whatever trials come your way and to have a support system that will help you through.

“Lost in Louisiana” was written after a trip John took to Louisiana to meet with another musician and his experience with waking up the morning after a crazy night. The cowriters had similar experiences, so they combined them into this song. The mellow feel of the song balances out the crazy images depicted in the lyrics, and the lyrics sound like a journal entry.  The images presented are clear and tell a story for the listener.

“Save Me” is awesome. It can be heard as a religious song, with phrases such as “morning light,” “save me,” and “keep on prayin’.” This song may also be a love song, especially when he references whoever “baby” is to him. This song is very mellow, and would be a great song to have at the end of an album.

“Six Men” is about living life to the fullest before it is too late. We all think we are invincible, but we will all die someday, and this fate is something we all have in common, no matter who we are. This song has a darker rock feel to it, which makes it stand out from the rest of the songs. The clapping/stomping in the beginning is also unique to this song.

“Don’t Cross Me Wrong” was a song that John wrote and played with country star Vince Gill, so this song has more of a country flare to it, which demonstrates his ability to play various styles with incredible talent. It has more of a country/rock feel to it, fusing Gill’s country background with John’s rock background. This song tells the story of two men fighting over a woman, which is not necessarily a common story in a song.

“Bad Bad Love” features Wendy Moten. The line “You can’t feel nothin’ ‘til you’ve been done wrong” sounds like a nod to “Rich Girl.” This song has a pop rock feel, leaning more towards the rock. It talks about a bad relationship, but the speaker can see past what is going on since he has experience in love.

“Edge of the World” has a southern rock feel to it. There is a shuffle to it. It is mellow and relaxing. The song is about a romantic relationship, and it would be a great song for a couple to dance to. It talks about how it feels to be in love with someone, but without getting into the typical clichés, which is what makes Oates a great songwriter.

“Bad Luck and Trouble” has a triplet feel to it which is funky and fun! A lot of people can relate to the story of the song since we all have days where it feels like everything is against us. This song looks at those days in a positive light. It says that having someone to help you through rough days is important.

“Different Kind of Groove Sometime” has a jazz/rock feel to it. It is definitely different from the rest of the album, and it truly wraps up the album. This album has so many different styles and a wide variety of collaborations, and this song speaks to that. It is a great last song to have on such an awesomely eclectic album!

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