2005 will soon come to an end, but there’s still time for one more round of single reviews before starting with the inevitable year-in-review lists.
For the thirteenth and final time this year, here we go…
4 RUNNER We Will Hope With You (Fresh)
Trite, uninspired and dull.
BON JOVI with JENNIFER NETTLES Who Says You Can’t Go Home (Island)
A fantastic collaboration between a legendary band and the lead singer of Sugarland. They sound like they were born to sing together. I’m starting to think anything Sugarland-related is destined for awesomeness.
BRICE LONG Anywhere But Here (Columbia)
With a bit more muscle in the production and a stronger vocalist, this could’ve been pretty good. Long is supposed to be a relapsing alcoholic, but he sounds like he’s not even of drinking age.
CARRIE UNDERWOOD Jesus Take The Wheel (Arista)
She may be the strongest vocal talent to hit the genre since Trisha Yearwood. The metaphor is a little forced, but she sells it with undeniable skill.
CHELY WRIGHT C’est La Vie (You Never Can Tell) (Dualtone)
See, this is a cover of a cover of a classic. Wright clearly heard this on Emmylou Harris’ Luxury Liner album, where Harris put a Cajun country spin on the Chuck Berry classic. Wright brings nothing to the table here, and sounds like an amateur when measured against Harris.
CLINT BLACK Drinkin’ Songs and Other Logic (Equity)
What’s the point of running your own label if you’re going to use your complete artistic freedom to release even more inane material than you did with the majors? Where is the guy who wrote “Killin’ Time”?
CRAIG MORGAN I Got You (Broken Bow)
I’ve heard this backing track before on some forgettable mid-90′s hit. Maybe Ty Herndon’s “I Have To Surrender” or something. Anyway, why bother coming up with some fresh licks when you’re recording a song as stale and cliche-ridden as this one?
CROSS CANADIAN RAGWEED Fightin’ For (Universal South)
Finally, something with a few rough edges. Satisfyingly bitter.
DANIELLE PECK I Don’t (Show Dog)
This sounds a little forced. “Jesus loves you but I don’t.” Come on. You can do better than that.
DOLLY PARTON Imagine (Sugar Hill)
You have to be incredibly idealistic and optimistic to pull this song off. Parton certainly is. She brings her own style to the song, which is hard to do with such an iconic record.
JAMIE O’NEAL I Love My Life (Capitol)
Unrestrained joy and celebration.
JASON ALDEAN Why (Broken Bow)
This is an interesting song. It sounds very real and sincere.
JO DEE MESSINA Not Goin’ Down (Curb)
Resilient rockers like this are her calling card, and she always pulls them off with gusto.
KEITH URBAN Tonight I Wanna Cry (Capitol)
This is fantastic, brilliantly written – “I’m just drunk enough to let go of the pain, to hell with my pride, let it fall like rain, tonight I wanna cry.” This is aching with vulnerability. One of his most fully realized performances.
KENNY ROGERS I Can’t Unlove You (Capitol)
His voice is, as always, instantly recognizable. He sounds as good as ever on this breakup song that rises above its awkward title.
LEANN RIMES Something’s Gotta Give (Curb)
It’s an excellent song, and Rimes sings it well. The production is just a little too loose to keep it all together.
LEE ANN WOMACK Twenty Years and Two Husbands Ago (MCA)
This is why she won Album of the Year.
MERLE HAGGARD America First (Capitol)
A fearless political statement from a legend nobody would dare paint as unpatriotic.
SARA EVANS Cheatin’ (RCA)
This is the best Reba record in years. It would be even better if it was Reba singing it.
SHEDAISY I’m Taking The Wheel (Lyric Street)
This is great, but surprisingly conventional. I worry that they’re holding back a bit to keep their slot at country radio.
TIM MCGRAW My Old Friend (Curb)
One of the best singles of his career.
TRISHA YEARWOOD Trying To Love You (MCA)
Why would MCA pick this middling ballad as a radio single? It’s a decent song, but far from the best on Yearwood’s new record. Stupid decisions like this are what sink great careers.