Album Spotlight: Parmalee, ‘Feels Like Carolina’ – ToC Critic’s Pick
Parmalee do what they do best on more than half the songs on 'Feel Like Carolina.' This group of reformed rockers compel you to buy a ticket to their live show with songs like 'I'll Bring the Music,' Dance' and especially 'Move.'
It's not a project without emotion, however. Singer Matt Thomas seems to grow stronger as the album progresses, with tracks like 'Think You Oughta Know That' standing out above other ballads like 'Close Your Eyes.' To be fair to the fourth track on the album, it comes after three uptempo party songs. It's a difficult transition.
Dueling guitar solos and a strong vocal performance on 'Think You …' introduce the final four songs on 'Feels Like Carolina.' Not all four are meaty ballads, but each is full of the meaningful sentiment the early tracks (appropriately) lack. 'Another Day Gone' is a lesson about appreciating life and the people that make it special. It's not a unique concept or a particularly unique lyric, but the band makes the most of it.
Parmalee overachieves on this album. Newcomers often struggle to find the best songs or secure appointments with the A-list songwriters in Nashville, so these four men do much of the heavy lifting themselves, turning out groovy jams like 'Day Drinkin'' (Scott Thomas' drums really hold this track down) and 'Move.' This song just cooks. It's the highlight of the album -- a place where all four members seem to be working entirely within their comfort zone.
'My Montgomery' offers variety later on. Parmalee have already proven their versatility by taking 'Carolina' to No. 1 on the Billboard charts after debuting with 'Musta Had a Good Time' in 2012. Credit the project's producers for taking a few chances, which just enough to add spice, but rarely too much to send one looking for another flavor to cover up the last. There are more hits to be found on 'Feels Like Carolina,' a country debut to truly be proud of.
Key Tracks: 'Day Drinkin',' 'Move,' 'Carolina,' 'My Montgomery'
Make It or Break It: Matt Thomas told Taste of Country that 'Carolina' was a make it or break it song for the band. That means if the song hadn't become a Top 10 or Top 5 hit, they many not have had a chance to release another single with Stoney Creek or release this album to fans. "We kind of got here to Nashville on the song," he shares. "Everybody at the label felt like it was a hit song, so did we so it was kind of like this should be a no-brainer. We were a little nervous when we first put it out over the summer."
Did You Know?: 'Feels Like Carolina' features songs by six other artists who've had hit (or minor hit) songs in the last decade. Trent Tomlinson, Keith Anderson, Preston Burst from the LoCash Cowboys, Randy Montana, Bobby Pinson and Chris Janson all provided co-writes.