It’s been fifteen years since Green River Ordinance formed as teenagers in Fort Worth, Texas and over that time the band of Josh Jenkins, Geoff Ice, Jamey Ice, Denton Hunker, and Joshua Wilkerson have evolved to the sound that is featured on , their fourth studio album and first for Residence Music, a relatively new Artist Development label similar to Thirty Tigers. Fifteen’s 11 tracks all put an emphasis on the roots-based music the band makes but don’t let that sound fool you if you think the band is abandoning where they’ve been. Instead they’ve grown into great songwriters (the melodic anchor track “You, Me & The Sea” sits in the middle of the record while singles “Keep Your Cool” and “Red Fire Night” are poised to be hits). Like Zac Brown Band, Green River Ordinance features a heavy dose of harmonies, the kind of harmonies that are as timeless as the country/rock genre is itself since it’s birth in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
“Simple Life” blends pianos, slide guitars and fiddles into a sound which showcases a lyric and sound that is easily reflective of the audience that the band is actually a part of while the previously mentioned “Keep Your Cool” has a funky feel to it as Jenkins sings the lyrics and builds to a crescendo of a chorus that just wails out of the speakers. “Red Fire Night” is a kind of song that recalls the youftful verve and freedom of OCMS’s “Wagon Wheel” while also having strong lyrical touches that polishes a well-worn theme (hanging out at a party in a country field) into a new, vibrant feeling sing-a-long. This is the song encores are made of. “Always Love Her” has a sing-a-long jangle to its step as the band once again brings the harmony on the chorus. The closer “Keep My Heart Open” recalls great story songs of the past, the kind of stories we should have more of in modern country music (and music in general) and works as a great closer to a fantastic album that is Fifteen.
This record is a work of a band that’s confident in where they are as a band with a successful touring career and a growing presence within the country music community and if any act was ready to break from indie to mainstream country with a record in 2016 (a la Granger Smith and Eli Young Band) it is Green River Ordinance and Fifteen.