Jon Pardi has had a knack for releasing catchy hits over the course of his career. “Head Over Boots”, “Heartache on the Dance Floor”, and “Dirt on My Boots” – to name a few – have become modern country mainstays in fans’ playlists, bars, clubs, and restaurants for good reason. Pardi’s latest album “Mr. Saturday Night” gives those same groups another reason to celebrate.
The album opens with the title track “Mr. Saturday Night”. It’s a cleverly written, bittersweet waltz about someone hiding behind the façade of a partier to cover up heartache. By the song name alone, it sounds like it would be exactly what the lyrics describe – a party – until you realize “Mr. Saturday Night” “missed her Saturday night”. Following this is “Fill ‘Er Up”, which is just the type of upbeat, dancing pick-me-up that the listener needs after a somewhat somber opening.
The next track is the third song in a row that takes place in the bar/nightlife setting. “Last Night Lonely” is for those who haven’t had a lot of luck in love that hope their newest chance meeting will be the one that lasts. It’s got an upbeat, steady tempo that could allow for any dance that feels right. You can easily groove next to someone or hold them close and twirl away in the bar. This song hopes to be the one that starts your lifelong love. Continuing the bar trend right after, “Neon Light Speed” will immediately remind Pardi fans of “Heartache on the Dance Floor”, albeit a little slower, which is ironic given the name.
“New Place To Drink” isn’t really breaking ground in country, but that’s fine. The song is a generic, upbeat, post-breakup song for a cowboy down on his luck, and sometimes, that’s just what someone needs. Really, it has the perfect sound for an end credits song in a show where things wrapped up in a way that didn’t go the way the character wanted.
“Your Heart Or Mine” doesn’t change thematically in terms of lyricism, but it is a drastic shift in musicianship. Aside from the dark undertones in the guitar, the drums and bass bring a head-bobbing, funk feel – all of which is backed by a soulful fiddle. Pardi even experiments with some vocal editing to make it sound like he’s singing into a different microphone or in a different environment than a recording booth. This is easily a star on the album.
“Santa Cruz” brings a beach vibe somewhat out of the blue, but it’s a well-made track, nonetheless. Pardi uses echoey vocals throughout the chorus in a similar fashion to Jack Johnson, which really ties the vibe together, not to mention the addition of some congas for aesthetic. “Longneck Way To Go” is the perfect “drive with the top down tune” to follow the beach vibe of “Santa Cruz”. Strangely, the song is actually a song by country band “Midland” that simply features Pardi, but it is included on the album anyway.
"Raincheck” brings us back to the bar imagery. It’s a significantly different take on the situation than the previous tracks. Pardi delivers a more wholesome yet melancholy sentiment through the lyrics. Many people take to nightlife to meet someone new – if only for a night – and that’s exactly what he describes going to do. Instead, however, he finds memories of a lost love and a couple drinks by himself to be what his heart will let him have that particular night. He maturely chooses to sit with the pain and cope on his own terms rather than try to bury his feelings in a probable one-night stand. Right after, “Workin’ On A New One” brings the energy back up with a feelgood drinking song that already sounds like a Nashville honkytonk favorite.
This album has been a rollercoaster of party songs and downtrodden slow jams tugging at the listener’s heartstrings. As we approach the end of the album, Pardi throws in four more slow songs to close us out. “Hung The Moon” is a simple slow song about a good girl thinking the world of a man who knows how much wrong he’s done in his life. We’re then treated to a beautifully heartfelt slow dance backed by the fiddle present in “Your Heart Or Mine”. In it, Pardi assures the person he loves through many analogies that he won’t stop loving them until the day he dies. The mood is then changed completely to what can only be described as Jon Pardi’s catchy Zac Brown Band song: “Smokin’ A Doobie”. Finally, despite the misleading, erotic name, “Reverse Cowgirl”, is an acoustic “come back baby” song.
This album was par for the course for Pardi, but it definitely had a few surprising cuts on it. Fans and new listeners will in no way be disappointed by Jon Pardi’s typical style or what appear to be some experimental changes thrown into the mix. “Mr. Saturday Night” is available now, so be sure to pick up a copy and catch him on tour.
Written by Will Nolan