I have a lot of friends who are entry-level country fans. So the Jake Owen they know is the guy behind "Days of Gold," "Beachin'" and "Barefoot Blue Jean Night." And don't get me wrong. They love that Jake Owen.
But they don't know the Jake Owen I know and love -- the guy behind quieter ballads with messages. Like "Green Bananas," "Every Reason I Go Back," "Nothin' Grows in Shadows" and "Startin' With Me."
Now, though, all of Owen's fans -- the new ones and the ones who have been listening to him since he debuted in 2006 -- will get a chance to hear this side of him on the radio once his latest single, "What We Ain't Got," hits radio stations on Monday (Aug. 11).
Not only is this song a slower one with a deeper meaning, but it is remarkable to me in what it isn't. It isn't loud. It isn't packed with the sound of a hundred electric guitars. And there's no percussion. (It might actually remind you a little bit of Sugarland's "Stay," which had a similar lack of standard-fare instruments.)
Owen is backed by piano, some steel guitar and Sarah Buxton on background vocals. And what happens when you strip the rest away is that you can really hear what an incredible voice Owen has.
"This song was important for me to record," Owen said in the Days of Gold album's press materials. "It's important for me to have really well-written songs and things that hit you in the heart."
The lyrics that paint a vivid picture of being unsatisfied.
"For me, there is a lot in my life that I have and more that I really want," he said. "And sometimes that's good, and sometimes that's not so good. People relate to that on many levels, whether it's in their marriage or in their business. I thought it was important to break the song down like that with the piano and showcase that I like to sing.
"People can hear my voice. It's a pretty powerful song."