October 3, 2008
As a preview of his new album, Jack Ingram jumps back on the country radio wagon with “That’s a Man.” It’s a song with examples core values and admirable character that serve as a constant reminder for the narrator and his desire live up to this standard.
With his victory as Top New Male Vocalist at the ACM awards, Jack Ingram demonstrated the industry respect that has marked a hit-and-miss commercial career. His voice echoes a certain grit and determination, and there’s a passion to each performance that’s earnest and honest and always heartfelt. But Ingram can’t turn any tricks on this three-act track that centers on the main idea, but never reaches any conclusions. It tells the story of a single mother, a returned soldier from the war and a fighting-an-uphill battle farmer who face everyday struggles. While the listener can sympathize with the plight, these tales all fail to connect with each other. Each of these subjects would’ve been worthy of a song if only they had been fleshed out for a full three minutes, instead of being packed into one inspirational song of good-hearted intentions.
A criticism with country music songwriting today is that many of the lyricists in Nashville are tossing out heart-tugging cliches designed to draw a response from passive listeners who latch on to easy images and ideas. They build a song that’s supposed to stand on these often-emotional themes without one cohesive thread running through it. For an artist of integrity such as Ingram, he confounds those who’ve placed his faith in his creative impulses by releasing a song that settles for less. Each storyline is admirable, but the song itself is a little scattered.
Written by Ed Hill, Steven Jones & Mark D. Sanders
Listen: Like a Man