Reality Rocks - Archive

Casey James Premieres First Country-Rock Single

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

Sometimes it still surprises me that Casey James didn't win "American Idol" last year. He had all the right ingredients for "Idol" success: all-American good looks to woo the tween girls and cougars, bluesy guitar chops to impress the music snobs, Texas roots to win over "Idol's" large Southern voter base, and just enough twang to please country music fans (and we all know from Season 10's results, lots of country fans watch "Idol"). Plus his cover of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy" was one of the best "American Idol" performances ever.

Casey only placed third in Season 9, but he made enough of an impression to land a record deal with Sony Nashville imprint BNA Records anyway, and now he's about to release his first single, "Let's Don't Call It A Night." The single officially goes to radio August 15, but you can listen to it right now, thanks to AINow.org:

Casey co-penned the tune with pro country songsmiths Brice Young (Gary Allan, Randy Houser, Randy Travis, Josh Turner) and Terry McBride (Brooks & Dunn, Reba McEntire, George Strait, Josh Gracin)...but it sounds like he collaborated with Bob Seger, Steve Miller, and the bearded dudes from ZZ Top. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. Quite the contrary. It just has a very old-school, old-soul feel to it, which will likely appeal to fans of classic AOR rock, even if Casey's trademark blistering guitar is disappointingly buried in the mix here.

With a Sony Nashville contract and a recent tour with Sugarland, Casey is clearly also trying to court a country audience. Honestly, I don't know if "Let's Don't Call It A Night" will be accepted at pop-crossover modern country radio. But considering that this year "Idol" fans mass-voted for Scotty McCreery, a country singer with vintage country influences, and that Casey's Season 9 castmate Crystal Bowersox has been embraced by the country music community, the single might stand a good chance. It actually sounds more country than what usually passes for "country" nowadays.

What do you think of Casey's new song? I actually prefer it live, when Casey is in his element: the lights turned down low (no, that's not a McCreery pun), the guitars cranked up, and the beer and good vibes flowing. Check out Casey's performance of the tune at L.A.'s rock joint the Mint this week to see what I mean:

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