Struggle Jennings’ ‘El Camino’ Keeps The Family Name Alive – Album Review

The last name Jennings is no stranger to the country music scene. With Waylon, Shooter, Whey, and of course, Struggle connected to the family name, these cowboy outlaws are known by more than just a few.

Struggle Jennings has kept one foot firmly in hip hop and the other in country for several years. As the trend has been in recent years, the artist has finally decided it is time to be true to his roots and release an album that would make his stepfather proud. His raspy and heartbroken voice serves the genre well on “El Camino.”

As the album opens, Struggle Jennings dives straight into a song with a common country music theme — regret. “Road I Came,” speaks of past mistakes the artist has paid dearly for. Like all of us, he has done some things he is no longer proud of, but instead of wallowing in his misery, Jennings vows to never go back to where he came from.

With hope in his voice, Jennings speaks of who he is and how he will no longer let the past define him.

“Shoulda Woulda Coulda” jumps in with a rockier vibe that may have been a better opening track, but alas, it falls to personal preference. Jennings continues the theme of overcoming the past with positivity. He knows he has a lot to show the world, and weaker men never could have made it out of the hole he dug himself.

It is easy to get weighed down by our mistakes, but there are better options than letting them drown you.

“It’s All Good Til It Ain’t” pairs Struggle Jennings with one of his most frequent collaboration partners, Caitlynne Curtis. Their voices nestled together in one track never disappoints. The dirty grittiness of his vocals paired with her crisp and flowing voice grabs two completely different tones in the same song, evolving the story they are trying to tell into a complete narrative.

After three faster-paced songs in a row, the tempo is turned down again with “Felt the Same.” This track loses a bit of the hope that was present in the other tunes as the artist begins to lose faith in what the future has to bring. Fortunately, he has others in his life who still believe he is going to make it.

It’s always best to have loved ones by your side to see you through the dark patches. When we lose sight of who we were meant to be, they can guide us back from the shadows.

Man down and I’m drowning in the pain. Face down like a needle in the vein.

Brianna Harness’ delicate voice joins Jennings on “Catch You When Fall,” giving the song an open and honest feel. The intricacies of this ballad hit the heart harder than any other song on the album. There is an overall indie sound to this vestige that makes the listener feel like they are privy to something wonderful in the making.

“We Got The Moon” has Bonnie Stewart and Struggle Jennings counting their blessings and looking for the silver linings amongst all their problems. Sometimes life gets us so down that nothing ever seems to be right, but even if the sun never rises, there is always the moon to light the way. It would be a crime if a live acoustic cut of this song wasn’t recorded as soon as possible.

The tempo picks up a little when “Light This Spark” begins, but after the genuine heartfelt lyrics of the last couple of songs, the words feel a bit generic. The conviction has slightly faded from Jennings’ voice, and we are left feeling like we have an album filler. Yet again, when the track ends, the honkey tonk sound of “Twisted” slips straight into your cowboy boots and won’t leave until you at least attempt The Texas Two Step.

The blues hit an all-time high with “Blood, Sweat, and Gasoline,” reminding us that a musician’s life is far from fabulous. Life on the road makes a man feel homeless and hopeless. Even when your dreams come true, you are still left with more questions than answers.

Jennings pulls out all the stops as the album ends with “Black Ribbon.” He channels every deep and dark emotion within his soul and sings it with every fiber of his being. His heart breaks for every heart he has ever broken.

Jennings sees he is out of control, but that doesn’t mean he can avoid the oncoming crash. These words seem like a cautionary tale warning his fans not to follow in his footsteps.

Looking back over Struggle Jennings’ music career, this album suits him best. There isn’t a song that seems out of place, unlike “Alligator Boots” on last year’s album “Monte Carlo.” Every song, co-star, and guitar string seems placed just right.

Even when songs like “Make Loving You Easy” and “Missin’ You” aren’t top tier, they prop up the following songs and escalate the emotion Jennings put into them while showcasing his undeniable talent.

All in all, Struggle Jennings does not harm country music. Instead, he gifts the genre another soulful voice and allows a younger generation into the fold.

It would be easy for the kids of today to see country music as something that belonged to their forefathers, but with offerings like this, everyone can find a home here.

What is your favorite track on “El Camino?” Let us know in the comments below.

Listen to “El Camino.”


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Self-proclaimed entertainment guru Charles E Henning fills his free time reading books, watching movies, and listening to music. While not always up on the latest trends, he is always willing to dissect the themes of pop culture.

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