December 8, 2010 - Roughstock - The House Rulesby CK Admin on 01/06/13
Known to most people as Eliot Spencer on the popular TNT program Leverage, Christian Kane is more than just an actor as this album, his solo debut, proves. The title tune to the eleven track collection, “The House Rules” is a rockin’ little number that is all about having a good time after a rough, tiresome and hard week at work. It’s all about having a good time and leaving those troubles behind, something most people want to do every week. It also serves as a warning shot to people who take everything serious and ‘before you come walking in here with some kind of attitude, you better read the house rules.’ The rock-n-roll tempo also suits the message of the song.
People expecting the rest of the album to be like “The House Rules” will be surprised with the rest of the album as the next song, “Something’s Gotta Give” a song written with Brandon Kinney and Arlis Albritton, is a mid-tempo, radio ready tune about a guy who has lived without taking risks for so long (“man I’ve been sitting on a fence for way too long…this barely getting by is getting old…something’s gotta give”) that he feels as if he’s going to finally get off the bench and proactively take a hold of his own destiny and into the game of life. For anyone who has ever felt like life hasn’t given them what they wanted, “Something’s Gotta Give” is going to be an anthem of hope for them. With a strong voice that works well with ballads, Christian sings a letting you go but I’ll still be thinking of you type of song in “Thinking of You.”
“Whiskey In Mind” recalls something that wouldn’t be outta place on a Randy Houser record with its mix of country lyrics and rock-n-roll melody with some fantastic fiddle work serving as one of the lead instruments. I’m sure this one gets the folks a movin’ on the dance floor but the fantastic “Let’s Take A Drive,” a song written by Christian Kane, Co-producer Jimmy Lee Sloas and Phil Madeira, is a song about the power a road trip can have on reminding one of the great times in their life. Written with Jerrod Niemann and Jimmy Lee Sloas, “Callin’ All Country Women” is another tempo-fuled rocker about the kind of women who don’t need fancy things to make them beautiful and these are the kinds of women that appeal the most to the narrating character in the song.
“Let Me Go” is one of three songs on The House Rules not co-written by Christian Kane and the song, about a guy who tries to constantly sell himself short to a girl who is in love with him, was previously recorded by Jason Michael Carroll. I didn’t understand why Sony didn’t release that song as a single for JMC so I’m happy to see the Casey Beathard/Tom Shapiro song get another life with Christian Kane. The production is a little bit more epic in Kane’s hands but he’s more than up to the task in singing the strong tune. The album closes with the final two songs to not feature Kane’s name and the first one – “Making Circles” – was written by Nashville singer/songwriters Whitney Duncan and Jonathan Singleton. As soulful as anything Singleton’s ever written (his songs include the hit Billy Currington song “Don’t”, Josh Turner’s “Why Don’t We Just Dance” and David Nail’s “Red Light.” It’s an emotive showstopper on the album and is about a relationship that has been stillborn yet somehow the couple can’t seem to get out of their situation so they’re ‘making circles’ with the relationship. It’s a song many people have experienced in their life, a co-dependent couple who doesn’t know how to end something that should’ve ended years ago. Another words, it’s a fantastic country song. There are two versions of this song (one clean, one not) and the clean one could really have a shot at country radio if released as a single down the line. The last song on the album is a very nice cover of the classic 1990s Tracy Chapman hit “Fast Car” which places us in the room as a young child discusses their situation with their alcoholic, out of work father. Proclaiming that it’s time to get out of their current situation and try to make a better life in a new place.
With 11 tracks, The House Rules is a well-produced (by Bob Ezrin and Jimmy Lee Sloas) and well-executed debut album that features an appealing mixture of contemporary country music and contemporary country rock. If you're a fan of his television work and also a country music fan, you're sure to enjoy what is presented here.
by Matt Bjorke