Drake Jensen: ‘Retro’ Track-by-Track Review

Courtesy of Drake Jensen
Courtesy of Drake Jensen

Canadian country music artist Drake Jensen has three full studio albums under his belt. Jensen’s debut album On My Way to Finding You, holiday album Christmas At Home, and his sophomore release OUTlaw have all been acclaimed and highly sought after by country fans and industry members. Though Jensen loves to create and cultivate great original material, his true love for music twisted his arm enough to inspire his most recent studio release, Retro. Retro is a collection of some of Jensen’s favorite and iconic songs. Retro is a great blend of everything that is musical. With a dash of rock, and a sprinkle of pop influences, Jensen took these songs into the studio and countrified them in the only way he could.

FDRMX was fortunate enough to get an exclusive listen of Retro before the album hit iTunes, April 15, 2015. Available now for digital download, the album contains some great hits made popular by Reba McEntire, Pam Tillis, George Strait, Céline Dion, and Luba amongst other great music artists.

“I Drove All Night” is a slamming little number written by Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg. “I Drove All Night” has been made famous by the talents of Roy Orbison, Cyndi Lauper, and the incomparable and vocally gifted Céline Dion. Jensen takes on the song on for Retro with his own engine-revving version. Jensen’s vocals add that husky country tone that his fans love, but the arrangement is purely up-tempo and toe-tapping. It doesn’t stray far from the other versions we have become accustomed to, but Jensen definitely makes it his own.

Reba McEntire earned herself her fourteenth number one hit in 1990 with “You Lie.” One of McEntire’s most beloved ballads, Jensen tackles the high notes and powerful runs of the original with great ease. Similar in musical arrangement, the song has a timeless country sound that is accompanied by Jensen’s vocals. Jensen’s version of the song proves that a song does not have to be gender specific. Singing a Reba McEntire song isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but vocally, Jensen pulls it off with hair-raising ease.

“Maybe It Was Memphis” is one of the biggest hits from country music sweetheart, Pam Tillis. Earning her a “Top 5” hit in 1991, “Maybe It Was Memphis” is beloved by new and long-time Tillis fans. Jensen manages to breathe new life into this classic country ballad. With those husky vocals, Jensen makes the song sound deep and sexy. Jensen gives the instrumentation a run for its money. Jazzier and lighter than the original, Jensen rocked out and revived this country classic.

It isn’t every single day you hear a Billy Idol song on a country record. “Eyes Without A Face” was released by Idol in 1984. Playing on the original qualities of the songs, Jensen takes it in a smoky, and bonafide country direction by adding it to Retro. Heavy like the original, it is an interesting selection for the album. A great listen and a great introduction for country fans who might not be aware of the existence of the song itself.

“Meet Me In Montana” was released in 1985 as a duet by Marie Osmond and Dan Seals. Jensen is joined by vocalist, Tia McGraff on this pitch perfect rendition on the song penned by Paul Davis. The story and lyrics come alive with the classic arrangement and gifted vocals. “Meet Me In Montana” is a perfect country love story set on the backdrop of chasing down big dreams.

On his 1999 release, Gary Allan released the title track “Smoke Rings In The Dark” as the album’s first single. The haunting song was a “Top 20” for Allan. Jensen combines his vocal talents with the dark tones of the song. A great addition to Retro, the song captures great emotion and musical elements that give the song exactly what country fans love to hear.

“Everytime I See Your Picture” was a success for rocker, Luba upon its release in 1982. “Everytime I See Your Picture” has been the first single released from Retro, and also includes an accompanying music video. Luba herself even took to social media to rave about Jensen’s performance of the song. Passionate and emotional, Jensen emotes on every note he performs in this song. Haunting and lonely, the arrangement ties in perfectly with Jensen’s vocals.

In 1992 Rodney Crowell released “What Kind Of Love” as the second single from his hit album, Life Is Messy. Jensen takes on the lyrics with the same passion and dedication possessed by Crowell. A mid-tempo country ballad, the song is a great selection for Jensen’s vocals and addition on Retro.

“Everything That Glitters (Is Not Gold)” is the second appearance of a Dan Seals song on Retro. Seals earned himself a “Number One” with this tearful ballad in 1986. With a simple arrangement and minimum instrumental accompaniment, the song showcases the raw and real emotion the Jensen plants in every note that he sings. Jensen’s version is a tear jerking rendition of this Seals classic. I feel Seals himself would have smiled and given this track a nod of approval.

Terry Stafford first introduced us to “Amarillo By Morning” in 1973. George Strait turned it into a beloved country hit in 1983. Jensen takes on this classic cowboy tune with ease. One of the most country sounding cuts on Retro; it holds its own against Strait and Stafford’s versions. A true classic country arrangement, “Amarillo By Morning” allows Jensen to dive deep into his cowboy vocal stylings and showcase his abilities to sing what he wants.

Retro is the perfect complement to these beloved songs. From classic country to classic rock, Jensen gives each track the right amount of attention. Many long hours spent in the studio paid off for Jensen and his production team as Retro is a great collection of musical stories. Retro brings together everything country fans love. Jensen carries consistency throughout the entire album with his vocal abilities. Each song pays respect to the original that was so carefully crafted by their respective performers.

Retro is currently available on iTunes with the physical CD to be released in the near future. The physical album promises to have something special. Jensen announced that it will include versions of Roseanne Cash’s hit, “Seven Year Ache” and an acoustic version of the pop song “Believe” which was made famous by Cher. I do “believe” he will however hold on the “autotune” when he hits the studio to perform this iconic anthem.

Jensen knows what country fans want. His arrangements stayed true to the originals, but added a little something to each track. Capitalizing on his husky vocals, Jensen manages to make each tune his own and turn it into a great performance. Retro is a great country listen for all fans. Links to download and connect with Jensen can be found on his website.