Tulip Drive arrives not long after Jimmie Allen racked up a number of Best New Artist accolades in 2021 -- three years after he released his debut album, Mercury Lane. Allen became an overnight sensation partially due to the smash success of "Freedom Was a Highway," a Brad Paisley duet added to a reissue of his 2020 EP, Bettie James. Once it reached number one on Billboard's Country Airplay chart -- not Allen's first time there, by the way -- he suddenly popped up on Dancing with the Stars and as a co-host for the ACM Awards, signs that he was poised for success beyond the confines of country music. Tulip Drive capitalizes on that potential success, offering numerous shiny melodies designed to appeal to pop audiences of all types. There's a reason why CeeLo Green, T-Pain, Jennifer Lopez, and one-time reality show contestant Katie Ohh all feel at home in these sparkling settings: Allen has his eyes set squarely on the mainstream, a place where pop, country, and R&B settle into an inoffensive common ground. Allen also feels comfortable here, so comfortable that he nearly recedes into the background; he's not driving the tunes, he's enjoying the ride. As he's not a particularly forceful singer, what stands out among the 17 songs on Tulip Drive is Allen's pronounced sentimental streak. The album is named after the street his departed grandmother called home -- Mercury Lane was named after his own street -- and the album concludes with a cameo from his son Aadyn on "You Won't Be Alone," a song written for his offspring but that seems indistinguishable from the many love songs on the record. Among these soft-focused soft rock tunes are a few changes in pace -- "Pesos" burbles to a Latin rhythm, and he slathers on the Auto-Tune on the J-Lo duet "On My Way" -- but, generally, Tulip Drive is operating on cruise control on a suburban street: it's a smooth ride but kind of dull.
Tulip Drive Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
|8||Jimmie Allen feat: Jennifer Lopez||02:57||Amazon|