Dream Big

Ryan Shupe & The Rubberband

Capitol Records Nashville, 2005


REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


Over the years, I have learned to enjoy various musical styles and genres. Hell, in middle school, the three CDs I played the most were Pure Disco Vols. 1, 2, and 3 (for the record, my favorite disco song is the remake of "December, 1963 (Oh What A Night)." Pure genius.) However, there are two genres that get no play on my iPod whatsoever -- country and rap.

Rap is an argument for another time, but why country? Well, to me, once you've heard one country song, you have heard them all. There's a drunk guy singing about how his dog get run over by a runaway barbecue grill with some fiddle playing in the background. And don't even get me started on Shania Twain's "country music." It's pop, people, nothing more.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

So picture me receiving a copy of Dream Big in the mail. Do I dare to listen or pawn this off on one of my fellow Vault-ites? The fact that you're reading this now gives you the answer. So after all this buildup, with you guys holding your breaths in anticipation, what do I have to say about this disc?

I like it, to a point. From what people tell me, they listen to country because it's fun and it doesn't make you think. It's music for the hell of it. And while the dark side hasn't gotten a complete hold over me, their point is clear. The opener, "Banjo Boy," is the picture of country; twangy, bouncy, and clichéd as all get-out. However, it's catchy. Following the previous track is "Even Superman." Rock and country get mixed around here a bit and it works. "Dream Big" as a ballad is nothing to write home about, but the harmonies are gorgeous.

Before I go on, my condolences to Bruce Rusk, who recently reviewed Willie Nelson's reggae/county outing. If Countryman sounded like "Rain Falls Down," then he deserves a medal for making it through the entire album. Half-assed attempts at reggae do not an album endear. Anyway.

Success for an album depends heavily on how much one likes the sound of that work. So for me, Dream Big started to get repetitive fast. Luckily, a few spunky tracks like "Ambush," with its glorious opening banjo/fiddle duet, and "Never Give Up," which reminded me of the Eagles' "Desperado" for some reason, kept the interest level going. Of course, that momentum was offset by the aforementioned "Rain Falls Down" and the equally vapid, Latin-flavored "Oh How I Miss You." Some may see me as being a hypocrite for stating my boredom with the country sound, and then blasting the band for trying something different. It is not hypocrisy if the changes are good.

One would think after reading through this review, my opinion on country hasn't changed much, and that is somewhat true. Overall, I doubt country will again be blasting from my speakers anytime soon. However, Dream Big has made me realize if one looks hard enough, good country music is out there. So for that, Dream Big gets one thumb up.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2005 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol Records Nashville, and is used for informational purposes only.