REVIEW: ERNEST’S FLOWER SHOPS (THE ALBUM): TWO DOZEN ROSES

Two Dozen Roses is best described as an album for songwriters. 

Following up on the success of his 2022 album, FLOWER SHOPS (THE ALBUM), Big Loud’s own country star ERNEST released FLOWER SHOPS (THE ALBUM): Two Dozen Roses. Released in the month of love, the 2023 album features 13 brand-new songs that weren’t included in its predecessor. Vivid imagery and poetic lyricism are found throughout the 24-track project, highlighting his strength as a songwriter. So it comes as no surprise he had songs cut by artists such as Chris Lane, Jake Owen and Thomas Rhett prior to pursuing his solo career as a singer-songwriter.

In addition, country instrumentals and soothing vocals make this an album you can easily listen to from start to finish and not tire of. Devout music lovers will also appreciate its narrative structure. As ERNEST explains in a press release,

“It’s great to finally have this continuation of the FLOWER SHOPS album out,” shares ERNEST. “I wrote almost all of these over the last year. I hope everyone listens to it from the beginning all the way through if they have the chance to – I track-listed it intentionally to follow a story that I think a lot of people can find themselves in at one point or another, so I hope people take the time to hear it in order” (ERNEST, PR team). 

Love gained and lost, self-destructive habits, turning towards religious faith and struggles with drinking are all themes present within this jam-packed album. As ERNEST continues,

“These songs are sticking to that traditional feel, and we had a fun time going to that world to write in,” ERNEST continues. “It’s paying homage to the music we grew up on. It was cool that after writing the songs, we were able to have the people who played on the ones that inspired us like Paul Franklin and Brent Mason play on these too. That meant a lot to me” (ERNEST, PR team). 

Not to mention, each track on the album was produced by 59th ACM Award  “Producer of the Year” nominee, Joey Moi.

Featured: Official cover art for Flower Shops (the album): Two Dozen Roses. PC: Delaney Royer. Courtesy of Big Loud Records.

The record opens with “Sucker For Small Towns,” an infectious ode to the charm of small towns and romance. Next is Tennessee Queen,” which is a love song filled with Elvis references. With Classic,” ERNEST brings back old-school romance in a track that would be an instant hit with hopeless romantics. Up next is “Feet Wanna Run,” Within the track, listeners witness the internal conflict of man versus self– his head and his heart are at war over whether to stay with or leave like he always does.

In “Comfortable When I’m Crazy,” listeners see a man who gives into his desires and struggles with addiction, sending him in a downward spiral. He turns to god, but there’s no answer – as if the lord is telling him there’s no easy way out, and the lesson in accountability lies in fighting his demons and battles himself. However, you don’t see a full take on accountability, as he blames the girl for pushing him further down the wrong path and the lord for being absent in his descent. Overall, it’s a vulnerable track in which one’s demons and self-sabotaging habits are keeping them from what they truly want.

It’s hard not to love “Flower Shops (feat. Morgan Wallen).” With a feature from fellow Big Loud labelmate Morgan Wallen, the star-studded duo sings of buying apology flowers for their s/o. They even go so far as to ask for roses without the thorns, a powerful image alluding to the fact that their s/o doesn’t deserve to go through any more pain. Things switch gears in the upbeat “Did It With You,” in which ERNEST sings of all the things that truly are important to him have taken place with the woman standing by his side.

Everything comes crashing down in “What It’s Come To.” Within the track, the country star reflects on his past actions that led to the demise of their relationship– alcohol and addiction playing a role yet again in this narrative. In “If You Were Whiskey,” whiskey becomes a metaphor for the girl he lost, saying if she was the whiskey he wouldn’t have lost her. Here we see more biblical references, with alcohol being referred to as the devil and his love an angel. But the devil won, and he lost her.

“Some Other Bar” romanticizes an interaction with a woman at a bar, knowing it won’t go anywhere beyond that evening but he hopes they will pick things up again at another bar in the future. Next is a stripped-down version of “Flower Shops (feat. Morgan Wallen) [Acoustic],” putting the emotions conveyed through the track front and centre. 

In “This Fire” listeners see a return to the self-sabotaging patterns and struggles with alcoholism, as everything goes up in flames. Here, they also see the protagonist turning toward faith and God for assistance out of the position they are in. “Wild Wild West” is a fun western-inspired track, in which he compares his love to the wild west.

In “Hill,” he sings of the life he envisioned for himself and his dream girl. Next is “Burn Out,” a self-prophetic tale of a romantic flame that was set to burn out from the very start, as ERNEST illustrates the memory of their relationship fading.

Then there’s “Nothin’ To Lose,” an ode to lost souls who turn to escapism to get through their days and numb their pain, not knowing how far gone they truly are — living without a care in the world. Again, listeners see the absence of God on his path of self-destruction. This is followed by “Songs We Used To Sing.” Here, the regret sinks in, after the first and second chances given are burned. 

“Done At A Bar” has a summer feel to it, with a traditional country instrumental opener. Here, actions are not matching his words,and he’s doubting the sincerity of her love for him. Up next is “Drunk With My Friends” — a sing-a-long song about a couple’s fight caused by him staying out late with the boys and getting drunk after saying he wouldn’t do it again. In “Anything But Sober” he seems to be turning over a new leaf when he goes to AA to save his relationship. However, he turns to codeine and weed instead of whiskey– facing new battles on his way to sobriety.

Taking a slower turn, in “What Have I Got To Lose (feat. Dean Dillon)” ERNEST and Dean Dillon sing of having nothing left after losing the woman they love.  This is followed by another collaborative track, “Heartache In My 100 Proof (feat. Jake Worthington).” Featuring labelmate Jake Worthington, the song echoes Garth Brooks’ “Friends In Low Places” with an emphasis on heartbreak.

“Unhang The Moon” is a slower, post-breakup song. With a Dallas, TX backdrop, ERNEST sings of unhanging the moon he once gave her in order to make her feel the same despair he does. Closing out the album is “Miss That Girl,” a repetitive track that mimics the sing-a-long nature of “Drunk With My Friends”.

THE VERDICT

“Sucker For Small Towns,” “Comfortable When I’m Crazy,” “Classic,” “Feet Wanna Run” and “If You Were The Whiskey” would be my standout picks. While there are many strong songs on the album, these ones are easy to listen to several times without them losing their original shine.

As a whole, the album is well-written and cohesive, with little to no filler. There is enough variation between the tracks that a listener can stay engaged throughout the whole 1 hour 20 min run time. It successfully builds off its predecessor, and the 13 additional tracks easily blend with the 12 previous ones. 

So if you’re a fan of neo-traditional country, Nashville sounds, honkytonks and have a deep appreciation for songwriting, I’d suggest giving this record a listen.

FLOWER SHOPS (THE ALBUM): TWO DOZEN ROSES OFFICIAL TRACKLIST:

  1. Sucker For Small Towns (Ernest Keith Smith, Jacob Durrett, Ashley Gorley)
  2. Tennessee Queen (Ernest Keith Smith, Dan Isbell, Jordan Schmidt)
  3. Classic (Ernest Keith Smith, Jacob Durrett)
  4. Feet Wanna Run (Ernest Keith Smith, Chris LaCorte, Brad Warren, Brett Warren)
  5. Comfortable When I’m Crazy (Ernest Keith Smith, Rodney Clawson)
  6. Flower Shops (feat. Morgan Wallen) (Ernest Keith Smith, Ben Burgess, Mark Holman)
  7. Did It With You (Ernest Keith Smith, Rodney Clawson, Nathan Spicer)
  8. What It’s Come To (Ernest Keith Smith, Lily Rose, Ryan Vojtesak)
  9. If You Were Whiskey (Ernest Keith Smith, Michael Carter, Ben Hayslip)
  10. Some Other Bar (Ernest Keith Smith, Ashley Gorley, Ryan Vojtesak)
  11. Flower Shops (feat. Morgan Wallen) [Acoustic] (Ernest Keith Smith, Ben Burgess, Mark Holman)
  12. This Fire (Ernest Keith Smith, Rocky Block, Julian Bunetta, John Ryan)
  13. Wild Wild West (Ernest Keith Smith, Jacob Durrett, Rafe Tenpenny)
  14. Hill (Ernest Keith Smith, Jordan Schmidt, Brett Tyler)
  15. Burn Out (Ernest Keith Smith, Andy Albert, Jordan Dozzi, Hunter Phelps)
  16. Nothin To Lose (Ernest Keith Smith, Mark Holman, Josh Osborne)
  17. Songs We Used To Sing (Ernest Keith Smith, Justin Ebach, Charles Kelley)
  18. Done At A Bar (Ernest Keith Smith, Josh Thompson)
  19. Drunk With My Friends (Ernest Keith Smith, Jordan Schmidt, Josh Thompson)
  20. Anything But Sober (Ernest Keith Smith, Alysa Vanderheym)
  21. What Have I Got To Lose (feat. Dean Dillon) (Ernest Keith Smith, Brian Kelley, Dean Dillon)
  22. Heartache In My 100 Proof (feat. Jake Worthington) (Ernest Keith Smith, Jordan Schmidt, Josh Thompson)
  23. Unhang The Moon (Ernest Keith Smith, Grady Block, Brad Clawson, Jacob Durrett)
  24. Miss That Girl (Ernest Keith Smith, Brad Clawson, Jacob Durrett)

 

*Produced by Joey Moi.

___________

*This article is a release “From the Vault”. Updated information has been included to introduce a fresh & relevant perspective.

Listen to FLOWER SHOPS (THE ALBUM): Two Dozen Roses Now:

Stay up to Date with ERNEST:

Works Cited

ERNEST. “ FLOWER SHOPS (THE ALBUM: Two Dozen Roses).” Spotify, Big Loud Records. 2023.<https://open.spotify.com/album/50uRwBAbSJNhpdgpFf9NQr?si=uJK0HYz2QTuIwYBP2ucdLQ>.

PR team.“ERNEST Delivers Two Dozen Roses”. Feb 10 2023. Press Release.

Royer, Delaney. “Featured: Official cover art for Flower Shops (the album): Two Dozen Roses. PC: Delaney Royer.” Feb 10 2023. Courtesy of Big Loud Records.

Royer, Delaney. “Featured: ERNEST. PC: Delaney Royer”. Courtesy of PR Team. Accessed Dec 2022.

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