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Hailing from Jonesboro, Arkansas, Denny Strickland has country music flowing through his veins. As a rising star of the modern country music scene, Strickland has a strong sense of melody, combined with contemporary lyrics and old school attitude. Also, an accomplished horseman, this country cowboy's songs are concentrated with endearing romance and sentimentality.

California Dreamin and Whatever are typical tales of relaxed romance whilst Slo Mo takes more of a lustful approach with some sexy country arrangements and building percussion that hints at a burning desire. There's a taste of R&B on Don't You Wanna which is a perfect example of how present-day country music is branching outside its comfort zone.

The lead single We Don't Sleep draws out an even more diverse sound: it could be Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake or Ed Sheeran with its melodic and lyrical drive and electro pop elements. It's a romantic, sexy and intimate example of how country music is able to exert emotions in a poetic way that is often missing in pop music's more in your face approach. It's not often you find a male artist's album that is so filled with erotic lyrics and romanticism without any holding back. Wearing his heart on his sleeve and exposing his emotions is easy for Strickland, due to his crediting his humility and candidness to his parents. There's no machismo here, his vocals are soft, seductive and tender, even on the rockier Damn Girl, Stickland whispers his fantasy into your ear, contradicting the forceful backing.

Stickland's debut album is a progressive example of the boundaries that modern country artists are pushing by incorporating different styles and genre stereotypes - California Dreamin is a promising entry into the country music catalogue.

Groupie Rating 4/5

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