Review : Jack Ingram - Big Dreams & High Hopes
AllmusicJack Ingram became an "overnight success" in 2005 with his number one charting country single "Wherever You Are," after toiling for a decade in Nashville's fields. Interestingly, he scored that hit with well-heeled indie Big Machine. In 2008 he was named Male Vocalist of the Year at the Country Music Awards. That's compelling, especially in light of the way Big Dreams & High Hopes sounds. For a long time, Ingram was a poet, albeit one that Nashville bigwigs didn't want to hear from. He writes about the tough spot he felt himself in on this set's final track, "In the Corner." He castigates himself, the label that let him go, and friends and fans who tried to pigeonhole him as an "ARTIST." No more. Now, it's true that these songs -- at least the half or so he wrote on this set -- don't much resemble that angry young man who's had a poet's touch and a steely critical eye. They do, however, reflect the sound of a songwriter who knows what it takes to be successful. No more, no less. Big Dreams & High Hopes is the sound of contemporary country music and all of its tropes: the big '70s rock production, the sheen, the compressed guitars and over-amped drums, the perfectly punched vocals, the hooky pop choruses and sound effects that feel like they come from the disco era without the rhythm tracks. That doesn't make it a bad record. Fans of contemporary country music showed their delight from the jump: the massive response that greeted summertime anthem "Barefoot and Crazy," the album's first single, is evidence enough....full text
BillboardJack Ingram has graduated from the Texas circuit to the country mainstream in fine fashion, and his appropriately titled new release, "Big Dreams & High Hopes," will only help his star rise higher. Current chart-climbing single "Barefoot and Crazy" is already lighting up request lines and dancefloors, while the song "King of Wasted Time" paints a picture of desperation not easily forgotten. Other highlights include "Free," which finds Ingram echoing the best work of Glen Campbell, and his expressive vocals shine through on the stripped-down title cut. Ingram may be good on his own, but Patty Griffin's sweet harmonies on the enchanting "Seeing Stars" and Dierks Bentley's growls on Ingram's live classic "Barbie Doll" are welcome additions. On the latter tune, Little Big Town, The Lost Trailers, James Otto and Randy Houser make a fitting barroom choir. --Ken Tucker...full text
SlantmagazineReviled as the ultimate sellout in the insular Red Dirt scene for This Is It, the album that broke him into the mainstream country big leagues in 2007, Jack Ingram responds to his harshest critics on Big Dreams & High Hopes, a record that proves that he has embraced the Music Row machine on its own terms, and has done so unapologetically. Album closer "In the Corner" is as sharply auto-critical a song to come out of Nashville in ages, with Ingram taking both himself and his former alt-country fanbase to task: "All the bravery, all the anger/Was just covering up fear," he sings, "That I'd end up in some corner/Now I sit here."
"Here," in Ingram's case, turns out to be the contemporary country music scene, where he has traded in the often scathing point of view of his earlier records for massive pop hooks, loud electric guitars, and even louder drum loops. In terms of style, there's little to Hopes that's original: The album splits the difference between the classic rock inspiration of Montgomery Gentry or Jason Aldean and the slick pop-country of Keith Urban. But to his credit, Ingram still manages to distinguish himself from many of his peers by having a distinctive style both as a songwriter and a vocalist....full text
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