Following his critically acclaimed release, Bettie James, that came out in the summer of 2020, Jimmie Allen is back with Bettie James Gold Edition, an extension of his previous project and a continued homage to his late father and grandmother. The recently crowned New Male Artist of the Year by the Academy of Country Music has unveiled eight new, unique collaborations that show off his ability to tackle different genres while still maintaining a modern country sound.
Bettie James Gold Edition begins with “Get Country” a collaboration with country duo LOCASH. It’s a perfect opener; it’s upbeat, it’s a stellar blend of pop and country, and it makes references to bonfires, dirt roads, fishing holes, as the three urge listeners to “Get up, get out, and get country.” It’s followed by “Home Sweet Hometown,” another contemporary country gem where Allen and LANCO sing about the forever connections they have to the places where they grew up.
The first two tracks are counteracted by, “Flavor,” which features hitmaker Pitbull and Latin pop artist Vikina. It sets itself apart from the rest of the tracklist. It’s flavorful and has musical influences from the Latin pop genre with blaring horns, strokes from the güiro (a Latin American percussion instrument), and what sounds like flamenco guitars in the background. The song is beachy, perfect for summertime, and it shows how fun crossing genres can be. Towards the end, Pitbull acknowledges their differences by shouting out, “Jimmie, he’s country. Me? I’m city.” It’s not often that you find a country artist tackling a Latin pop-infused tune but Allen does it wonderfully.
“Pray” is another interesting collaboration with GRAMMY Award-winning singer Monica and renowned country group Little Big Town. Monica’s powerhouse vocals complement Allen’s in the most extraordinary way as Allen sings about his connection to faith. In the chorus, he states, “I’ve been losing my religion / I’ve been in and out of faith / What it is and what it isn’t / Well it’s not for me to say / We stand in different churches and we call it different names / But in the end, we pray.” Little Big Town provides backing vocals that come in on the second chorus and last through the end to make the track sound larger than life; it truly feels heavenly hearing all of their voices come together. Out of all the songs on the record, Allen’s vocals feel most heard during this one.
Another contrast can be heard when the album goes from “Livin’ Man,” an acoustic song with a little bit of a twang, to “Tequila Talkin,’” track number eight that features vocals from Lindsey Ell and an EDM production by teamwork. If “Livin’ Man,” is a long drive down winding back roads, “Tequila Talkin’” is driving through the bright lights of a city. It’s catchy and vibrant.
The last of the new tracks is “Forever,” a slow-paced, piano ballad with R&B legend Babyface. It’s an incredibly heartfelt love song. The lyrics seem to reflect Allen’s personal life as a newlywed as he sings,“I wanna drive out to Cali for your favorite wine / Stand in the ocean and down in your eyes / No I don’t want to kiss you in these neon lights / Cause you deserve more than one Saturday night.” The harmonizations between Allen and Babyface are magical as their voices effortlessly melt together. Showing his vulnerable side, Allen ends every chorus with the sentimental line, “If I’m gonna love you right baby, it might just take me forever.”
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