On the cover of his most recent record, "American Love," Florida native Jake Owen is sitting inside a vintage VW Microbus parked near a beach, looking like he might be ready to go surfing. The title track, the opener, kicks in with some laid-back beat-boxing and it's not long before Owen is referencing someone's Daisy Dukes.
Owen is a country singer, and these days that means blending in elements of rock, hip-hop and pop. There's an ode to aimless wandering on the open road, hitting that troubadour/hippie/gypsy sweet spot. Owen actually did a massive road trip in an actual old VW van, with a videographer, as part of the promotional package for the record. Owen, a positive guy who went through a divorce before this record, took the opportunity as a chance to slow down and chill out. He may have written the first country song that references "nag champa" (and he rhymes it with "marijuana").
This new record splits the difference between post-break-up anguish and let's-party anthems. Owen has said he avoided putting too much personal stuff into his latest record, but the dark piano chords and lyrics of drunken transgressions of "When You Love Someone" sound an awful lot like a song by a singer who's had his heart broken recently.
Jake Owen plays at Toyota Presents Oakdale Theatre, 95 S. Turnpike Road, Wallingford, Saturday, April 22, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 to $112. 203-265-1501, livenation.com.