Bryan Cole- ‘Wide Open Road’ Review
By C.W. Ross
Artist Bryan Cole hails from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; not the first place that comes to mind when you think of country music. Maybe that’s part of why Cole’s music is country in style, but not your father or grandfather’s country music. While you will find the usual country lineup of instrumentation including, guitars, fiddle, mandolin and steel pedal Cole’s brand of country is mixed with elements of pop and even some swamp rock to achieve its modern country sound.
Cole also surrounded himself with an ‘A-List’ of country veterans including producer Chuck Ainlay (Sugarland, George Strait) who produced all of the tracks found on, ‘Wide Open Road’, except for except for the last track, “I’m Comin’ Home.” that was co-produced by Michael Stover and Bryan Cole. You’ll also find a group of seasoned session players including, Mark Greenwood- bass guitar (Garth Brooks), Jimmy Mattingly- fiddle, mandolin (Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire,) Steve Hinson – pedal steel, dobro (Randy Travis, Josh Turner), Michael Stover – drums (Angelspeak), Michael Rojas – keyboards (Lady Antebellum,) and Jimmy Nichols – piano (Faith Hill) performing on the release. Cole handles all lead vocals along with background vocals, all guitars and the Hammond b3 and piano found on “I’m Comin’ Home.” Cole also penned the songs found on ‘Wide Open Road’, along with his longtime collaborator and manager, Michael Stover and songwriters, Kent Blazy and Tom Paden.
Cole gives all the credit for his musical talents to God and lives a strong faith life that includes sharing his success by performing at Charity events, donating musical tracks to charity type of releases, and by sharing proceeds from his music. Proceeds from “I’m Comin’ Home” are being donated to the Animal Rescue League of Western PA.
My reviewing process includes listening to a release the whole way through and taking notes as I listen to each song. I put a star by tracks that I really enjoyed, looking at my notes from ‘Wide Open Road’, there are so many stars on the page that it looks like a flag! I enjoyed about everything that I heard on this release. I found the mix of up-tempo and melodic tracks just right and I also liked the elements of pop and rock that Cole mixes in to his music to achieve a modern country style.
On ‘Wide Open Road’ you’ll get a lot of guitar lead music ranging from acoustic to electric thanks to Cole’s great playing. I also like the mix of mandolin, fiddle and steel pedal parts that weaved into almost every song that add little bits of musical spices to them. Several of the songs also have major keyboard parts, including many of the more melodic tracks that are lead by piano parts.
If I had to pick just one or two highlight tracks it would be, “Mobile Home,” a fun up tempo very lively fiddle and piano lead track that’s a real hand clapper. “Talkin’ Dirty”, is a real fun barn burner with its rousing Hammond B3 and electric guitar parts that give the song a swamp rock vibe. Don’t worry about the song’s title it isn’t what you’re thinking. You’ll have to listen to the song to find the real meaning behind its title. If you’re in the mood for something more melodic and heartfelt then give the track’s, “If Only”, or “Caught in the Undertow”, a listen.
Review takeaway: Whether you’re a big fan of country music or not doesn’t matter do yourself a favor and listen to Bryan Cole’s ‘Wide Open Road’ release because you’ll quickly become a big fan of Cole’s brand of country music.