There’s no doubt that Gretchen Wilson is very talented. She proved it with her smash debut song, “Redneck Woman”, which was a catchy rave up that joyously celebrated the less fine things in life. It easily struck a chord with a lot of people, due to its universal appeal (even men could champion the message) and its loud, but fresh, production. Wilson is also equipped with a voice that can sing a tender country ballad as adeptly as a country rocker like “Redneck Woman.” Unfortunately, radio has historically cast her as the party anthem, redneck woman and she has found it nearly impossible to escape the narrow typecast as a result.
As part of her relatively rapid decline in favor with radio, her major record deal resulted in the most recent casualty, which, in turn, has freed her to form her own record label. Interestingly, however, it seems that the move has not mentally freed her to make fresh sounding music. While “Redneck Woman” may have seemed fresh in 2004, it is categorically old news by now.
The content of “Work Hard, Play Harder” is as transparent as one might easily deduce from the title. Once again, as we’ve heard in even more Wilson songs than “Redneck Woman”, this song embraces being a redneck woman, albeit with a different title than her debut single. Not only is the theme the same, but the production is just about as close to being an inferior carbon copy of its redneck predecessor without technically being the same song, even right down to the slick background vocals. While it may have worked the first time around, and even a couple times thereafter, the dated shtick has long worn out its welcome. Moreover, it’s simply time for Gretchen Wilson, a decidedly talented artist, to take advantage of her newly acquired freedom and move on to better things.
Written by Gretchen Wilson, John Rich & Vicky McGehee
Listen: Work Hard, Play Harder