Eli Young Band, "10,000 Towns" (Republic)
The Eli Young Band continues to provide a smart, relevant antidote to all the male country acts focusing on clichés about the attractions of backwoods America. On "10,000 Towns," the four-piece band from Denton, Texas, shines by focusing on insightful songs about how young men and women relate with each other.
The album's first hit, "Drunk Last Night," continues the band's string of potent songs that don't rely on the usual Nashville formulas. While most other country bands celebrate drinking and partying in superficial ways, singer Mike Eli instead elucidates, with restrained drama, how a night of over-indulgence can lead to actions that might be regrettable the following day.
Similarly, the band's new hit, "Dust," depicts the complex emotions involved even when driving away from a relationship that's taken a bad turn.
Not everything on "10,000 Towns" hits such high notes. A few clunkers -- including "Just Add Moonlight" and the title cut -- rely on standard country tropes. But those potholes only briefly slow down an otherwise solid effort by the band, which includes guitarist James Young, bassist Jon Jones and drummer Chris Thompson.
Overall, though, the Eli Young Band's second major-label album -- and fifth overall -- gives plenty of reasons for cities across America to embrace them with open arms.