By Rachel Woodward, February 14 2017 —
As somebody who has trouble appreciating country music, I am hesitant to give new albums of the genre a try. But as someone who also supports local music, I was eager to give Calgary-born JJ Shiplett’s new album Something to Believe In my best shot.
The country-rock up-and-comer has seemingly breached into the mainstream, as I first learned about this album from Apple Music. The album is a collection of Shiplett’s best work that those who have seen him live will recognize, alongside newer tracks that bring more emotion and punch. Shiplett’s ability to carry the same energy to his recorded tracks that he brings to a live performance is admirable.
The titular track of Something to Believe In carries the beginning of the album flawlessly. The build of vocals and guitar eases listeners into the album and prepares them for the confident declarations of love and vocal power that follow. While this opening track brilliantly showcases Shiplett’s powerful vocals, it also leaves you wanting more.
As the album moves through some slower songs, Shiplett opens up to listeners with tales of heartache and late nights. He uses his songwriting to alter the typical country music genre into something that non-country fans can still enjoy.
“Darling, Let’s Go Out Tonight” is my favourite track on the album, as the upbeat melody and carefree lyrics lure listeners with a song about a night spent dancing. While this track doesn’t showcase the power of Shiplett’s vocals, it carries the album with positive vibes and heartfelt lyrics about a carefree night with someone you love.
The album finishes with songs that all blend together, including soulful tracks like “Waters” and reflective songs like “Loaded Like A Freight Train.” But the album never loses its charm. It will surely put Shiplett on the map as a country-rock name.