Artist: Lucy Hale
Album: Road Between
Release Date: June 3, 2014
Label: Hollywood Records
As soon as Pretty Little Liars star Lucy Hale announced she was making a country record, everyone on Music Row collectively groaned. It’s been seen time and time before: pretty, teen-friendly actress expands their brand by fulfilling the lifelong dream of becoming a recording artist and putting out an album. While many of her contemporaries before her made the no-brainer choice of putting out bubblegum pop albums, Hale took a slight risk by taking the country route. But we’re not calling Hale a pioneer just yet.
The album’s lead single “You Sound Good to Me” is a romping uptempo track designed to make you clap your hands and stomp along to the beat. Written by an all star songwriting trio of Luke Laird, Ashley Gorley, and Hillary Lindsay, the song stands alone as a perfect slice of country pop – it’s a total earworm. Well, the first single shows a good bit of potential. Maybe there’s hope for Hale’s recording career after all.
The remaining 10 tracks (15 if you’re counting the deluxe edition) offer a mixed bag of material. For every lyrically witty track like “Lie a Little Better,” there’s a few misses – see the bland title track and “My Little Black Wedding Dress,” which would make a better fit with a singer 10 years older. Amongst the mostly middle ground material, there’s one specific track stood out to us: the angst-filled “That’s What I Call Crazy.” The track is a straight-up breakup anthem, which harkens back to the early days of Taylor Swift. While it could’ve easily been a hit in 2006, these types of songs never go out of style, and the lyrics are just begging to be screamed by teenage girls in there bedrooms all across the country.
The track is nearly perfect in execution from its perfect visuals (“If the neighbor looked through my windowpane /He’d say she’s finally gone insane / All the things I do around this old house / Like cussing your name, screaming out loud / My bedroom wall’s got a hole in it now”) to its tight, singable pop chorus. That being said, the genius in “That’s What I Call Crazy” doesn’t come from Hale’s vocal performance, but moreso the songwriters: Ashley Gorley, Chris DeStefano, and Kacey Musgraves (!!!). Hollywood Records pulled out all the stops – making sure they snagged tracks from Nashville’s top-tier songwriters, but with a lack of artistry and cohesion behind the project, it plays out more like Hale singing karaoke to old demos that Carrie Underwood passed up on.