Show Reviews

Show Review: CJ Solar 'The Future's Neon' Album Release Party

 

CJ SOLAR WITH BRENT ANDERSON

'The Future's Neon' Album Release Party

Tuesday August 2, 2022

@ 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville, TN

(Review by: Jeffrey Kurtis)

As extremely quick growth and development continues to effect and change the landscape of Nashville, rumors have swirled that local music hotspot 3rd & Lindsley is standing on its last legs and will be relocating sometime soon.

Since first opening their doors in 1991, the iconic stage has been home to so many different acts over the years including Chris Stapleton, Sheryl Crow, Zac Brown Band, Lady A, Train, and many many more!

But on this night, the hallowed ground welcomed CJ Solar!

With a packed house nestled shoulder to shoulder, he hosted the official release party for The Future’s Neon, just days before his first-full length album would officially drop nationwide on August 5, 2022.

Solar brought along his friend Brent Anderson in the direct support role to warm up the eager and enthusiastic crowd with a quick acoustic set.

Known for his own charting tune “Amy’s Song,” but also as a songwriter on such hits as “Lonely Tonight” and “Last Time for Everything,” and as a producer on Chris Janson’s breakthrough album Buy Me A Boat, Anderson used his time slot to offer a full-rounded look at who he is as an artist and what to expect from all the different sides of his forthcoming album Rearview Tennessee.

Sticking to a distinctive singer-songwriter vibe, Anderson played songs such as “Walks on Whiskey” and “Story for Another Song,” the latter which takes his familiar songwriter style and expertly pushes the vibe into pop sensibilities that allowed his voice to move into a different range as he circled the audience when his vocals hit a higher register to pull them, fully invested into his set.

But proving that he is no one-trick pony, Anderson borrowed a lot of flare from outside styles to blend into his own unique branding, enticing the audience with a wide range of sonically driven sounds throughout the balance of his set.

He kissed an R&B flavor on the steamy, sexy tilt of “What I Do With You,” invited us into his personal life through the polaroid snapshot lyrics on “Fly To LA,” showed off his musicianship when he switched from acoustic guitar to keyboard to carry the vulnerable title track “Rearview Tennessee,” and added a gritty groove and swampy licks into his otherwise modern country vibe on set closer “Bloodline,” which acted as the perfect last song for him to play, as it more importantly, led straight into the Southern Rock edge that CJ Solar would be bringing to the stage.

With neon bracelets glowing on every table, CCR’s “Fortunate Son” pounded through the speaker system as the crowd danced and sang along as the stage lights dimmed and CJ Solar and his band mates made their way to the stage to an incredible eruption of applause as they immediately turned up the rowdy with their dirty, country rock sound on a “A Little Less Mercy,” during which attitudes of grunge era alternative rock filtered their way into the guitars as they shredded through the chorus while the drums pounded a beat into the chest of everyone in the audience.

“This next song is the one that started it all,” Solar exclaimed as he took us back to 2016 with “Tall Boy,” continuing the guitar onslaught as his guitarist effortlessly slapped home licks that had the crowd cheering, as they then drove directly into their first cover of the night with Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen,” transporting us to back to the early 1970’s as the crowd grooved along.

Continuing to dive into the first quarter of their 19-song set, Solar and company delivered singles “Coming My Way” and “Just Another Day in The Country,” during which he would bring the lyrics to life as he cocked his guitar like a hunting rifle when he sang the line, “shoot a lot of deer.”

“This next song is the single that I have out right now,” Solar plugged. “We wrote this one a long time ago, like 7 years, and it kept getting put on hold with a bunch of different artists. When this record that we’re releasing Friday came around and it hadn’t been cut yet, I just knew we had to include it on here,” he finished as he played his hot rising single, “All I Can Think About Lately.”

Flanked by his guitarist and bassist, they trio took to center stage to create a picture-perfect moment as they shredded through the intro of “American Girls” side-by-side, before pushing into another song that he’s used as a teaser ahead of his new album, “Coming Around.”

“A couple years ago, I put out a cover of this song, and I figured we can’t not play it tonight since 2.75 of us on stage are long-haired country boys,” he finished with a smile as he rocked the crowd with his version of the Charlie Daniels classic, which had everyone singing along with it as the crowd completely lit up and was now squarely sitting in the palm of CJ Solar’s hand.

“This next song is the title track to the new album. We wrote it on Zoom in 2020 during everything, and was talking to my co-writers on it, Blake Griffith and Jim McCormick, and I asked, “What do you think country music fans are going to be doing when this is over?” Solar mused referring to the shutdown and pandemic. “Jim McCormick answered with, “I see a lot of neon in their future!” and I liked that, so that’s what we wrote,” Solar finished as he delivered the catchy, rock tilted bounce of “The Future’s Neon.”

“I’m a big Lynyrd Skynyrd fan,” Solar shared as he then joked. “As if you couldn’t tell by my hat! When I got together with Devin Barker and Frankie Courtney to write this next song, we were going for a Skynyrd meets Brooks & Dunn kind of thing,” he told as they gave the crowd the hip shaking groove of “Long Nights, Long Legs, Long Necks,” effectively getting everyone in the whole place bouncing their shoulders and heads along with the irresistible rhythm.

“Whiskey River, take my mind,” rousingly rang out from the stage as they drove into a cover of the classic Willie Nelson tune, completely hitting a zone that showcased how much fun the band was having, which transcended across the crowd.

“2020 just really kind of sucked,” exclaimed Solar who was met with approving cheers from the crowd. “But a silver lining in all of that for me was that Jameson Rodgers took this next song to #1, which is always such a huge blessing,” he gratefully said as he got the crowd singing along with “Some Girls.”

“We ended up giving this song the piano treatment on the record, but since I don’t have a piano up here with me tonight, we’ll just do a broken-down version of it on guitar,” Solar explained as he and the band delivered the stone country, waltz infused “Hungover Enough.”

“Thank y’all for coming out tonight to support this record. It really means a lot,” Solar said thankfully. “This Friday night I get to play the Grand Ole Opry again, and it’s so cool to be here tonight celebrating the new album with y’all, and to then be on the Opry stage the day that it officially releases. This song is from my last record and the first time we ever played it out was on my Opry debut so it’s such a special song to me,” he stated as he slowed things down with the heart-punch lyrical masterpiece “Watered Down Whiskey.”

“Night Moves,” the classic Bob Seger smash, allowed Solar and his band to let loose once again and in its way gave each band member the chance to allow their individuality to shine at various parts of the song,  while “Blue Bandana,” the Jerrod Niemann single written by Solar, allowed him the opportunity to play what he called “one of his most favorite songs that he’d ever written.”

“A couple of years ago, I was out on the road opening for Lynyrd Skynyrd, but one of those weeks when I was out with them, this next song which I wrote for a new guy at the time…Morgan Wallen; it gave me my first ever #1 song ever. WILD! And I can’t thank him enough for that,” Solar said as he encouraged the crowd to sing along with him on “Up Down,” before closing the night by digging back into his Southern rock influences with a rebel-rousing cover of The Allman Brothers Band’s “Whipping Post.”

Years ago, I was sitting inside this very venue to catch hit songwriter Jeffrey Steele, but I was wowed by a new kid on the music scene named CJ Solar who had opened that show with only an acoustic guitar, his incredible voice, and a guitar case full of amazing songs.

In many ways, this was a full circle moment tonight!

While the intended focus was surely on his new album, The Future’s Neon, which Solar played 6 out of 9 songs from it, this was so much more than just a celebration of the new album. This night was the culmination of everything that brought him to this very moment.

He slammed pieces of his back catalog expertly into the here and now to offer a full taste of the edge that he brings into his modern, Southern rockin’ country style that clearly pulls influence from Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers, but offers just the right amounts of bends and twists within it to make that familiar, bluesy country driven sound tilt into his own unique branding on it – the very aspect that will elevate his status as an artist as he plunges forward into that destination come Friday when the new album drops!

FULL SET LIST

1) A Little Less Mercy

2) Tall Boy

3) Mississippi Queen (Mountain cover)

4) Coming My Way

5) Just Another Day in the Country

6) All I Can Think About Lately

7) American Girls

8) Coming Around

9) Long Haired Country Boy (Charlie Daniels cover)

10) The Future’s Neon

11) Long Nights, Long Legs, Long Necks

12) Whiskey River (Willie Nelson cover)

13) Some Girls

14) Hungover Enough

15) Watered Down Whiskey

16) Night Moves (Bob Seger cover)

17) Blue Bandana

18) Up, Down

19) Whipping Post (The Allman Brothers Band cover)

 

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