The path to country music stardom has rarely gone through Salt Lake City, Utah or London, England. The fact that Julianne Hough’s path to music city took her through both cities is unprecedented. Granted, her path to London was to study dancing (with her brother) at a prestigious school. That path took the 19 year old to “Dancing with the Stars” and Julianne has used the show to springboard into a country music career.
Signed in late 2007 to a record deal with Mercury Records, Julianne entered a studio with veteran producer David Malloy, who produced Mindy McCready when she was the same age, and recorded the tracks that make up her eponymous debut record.
The first single, “That Song In My Head” has been climbing the charts and serves as the perfect introduction at country radio. The song has all of the hallmarks of a radio hit, rootsy, modern production mixed in with an engaging voice that has a natural twangy sound to it that reminds me of a young Faith Hill. In fact, “Julianne Hough” is packed with songs that recall the late 1990s era in country music. This isn’t a bad thing as it lends the record an organic feel. “My Hallelujah Song” is one of those songs. It’s one of a few songs that spin positive messages about life and where it’s going in one’s life. These are themes one would expect on a record from an artist perceived as squeakily clean by the press, mainly because of her Mormon faith.
One song that’s particularly interesting is the duet “Underneath The Same Moon.” It’s interesting because it shows that talent runs deep in the Hough family as Julianne’s dancing brother Derek sings with her on a song that discusses what it’s like to dream about the same things even if they’re not in the same geographic location, something they felt when she left London to return to America. Vocally, Derek sounds somewhat like Chuck Wicks. The ballad “Help Me, Help You” is one that details the trials and tribulations of living with alcoholism.
Julianne Hough has created a likeable debut record that showcases a woman with a strong set of country vocals. Because of her faith and personal outlook on life, Julianne was never gonna record a stone country drinkin’ and cheatin’ record and that’s reflected in the songs that are featured here. It’s a nice, safe debut for an artist who might help break country radio’s stupid limit on female artists getting hits (usually two to four at a time).