By Dan Wharton
Unlearn teases immense potential, whilst still leaving much to be discovered.
1. Second Guessing
2. 25 To Life
4. Put Me Through Hello
5. By The Way
6. Small Town After All
7. Came Here To Leave
8. Late To The Party
9. How Many Beers
10. Bottles On The Table
Star of NBC’s Songland and Big Loud’s latest prodigy, Griffen Palmer emerges with his debut album Unlearn, a first in-depth glimpse into the Ontarian’s highly-acclaimed lyricism. Having secured writing cuts for the likes of Keith Urban, Florida Georgia Line and Mackenzie Porter, there’s a Music City buzz building around Palmer, and with that success comes great expectation.
Apart from on opener 'Second Guessing', there’s no long list of co-writers on the credits, that’s for sure. A chance meeting with mega-hit songwriter Geoff Warburton at a house party opened a dream door for the budding singer-songwriter, forming the basis for this project on which Warburton co-wrote every track. His touch of pop-leaning know-how and melodic mastery adds a layer of very strong mainstream appeal.
The title track has all the ingredients of a smash hit; a stadium-ready chorus that explodes into life, as Palmer gushes over a fairytale relationship that changed a lost lover’s fortunes. ‘25 To Life’ is another highlight, as Palmer goes all-in for his life partner with some clever lyricism; “If loving you is a crime / give me 25 to life with you” It’s these moments of nuance and transparency on a personal level where Palmer shines artistically, something that’s wonderfully endearing when it hits the spot.
In-house producer Joey Moi’s slick expertise provides radio-potential hits aplenty, with the likes of ‘By the Way’ and ‘Small Town After All’ packing in the infectious hooks that all chart-toppers require. ‘How Many Beers’ is also an instant favourite, with its novel take on a breakup providing much more depth than the title suggests. It possesses an absolutely killer, electric guitar-driven melody, too.
But you only get one chance to make a first impression; listeners need to hear artistic boundaries being stretched. At times, a lack of bravery in the subject matter leaves much to be desired. Country Music wasn’t longing for another ‘taking a girl home from the bar’ song in ‘Came Here to Leave,’ and ‘Late To The Party’ feels rather generic and far too safe for a songwriter of Palmers’ calibre.
Unlearn teases immense potential, whilst still leaving much to be discovered. Clearly a complex, sophisticated songwriter, there’s just enough there to reel you in and leave you wanting more. Whilst the choice of material for a short 10-track project could be sharper, when Palmer is on it, he’s really on it.
Palmer certainly has a lot more to unleash and is definitely a talent to keep an eye on.
Griffen Palmer's 2023 album, Unlearn, is released April 28th via Big Loud Records.
For more country albums released in 2023 and their release dates, head here: