July 17, 2009
I don’t think any artist this decade has frustrated me more than Pat Green. Here’s a man endowed of a wonderfully expressive voice, a solid songwriting gift, an army of adoring Texans, and what does he do with them? He hires Dann Huff to blare them out so he can score a few hits.
I guess you can’t fully blame him, on one hand. Green is a first-class performer of his type, worthy of the national audience he seeks, and in a just world, he would have gotten it back when he was still ripping into “Me and Billy the Kid.” And he probably knows that.
But that’s not the way it happened, and he wouldn’t settle for less. So here we are now, ten years and six albums later, listening to Green tick off Things He Believes In like they’re on some kind of grocery list of acceptable country radio themes. Listening to Green have a shouting match with an electric guitar. Listening to a skeleton fight to keep one last bit of meat on its bones.
And to some extent, it works. Green can’t help but bring a little character to every performance, and this generic list-song almost sounds like a generic list-song with a cohesive message and soul to it. There’s almost enough promise here to balance all the compromise, the way there was with “Wave On Wave,” with “Dixie Lullaby,” heck, with “Feels Just Like It Should.”
But in the end, the soul and promise just feel too restrained by the strict, shallow songwriting template, the mad attention to saying nothing too provocative or unusual, to doing whatever it takes to fit in snugly with everybody else.
Too bad Green didn’t notice “everybody else” has kind of sucked recently.
Written by Marc Beeson & Allen Shamblin
Listen: What I’m For