There’s no telling how this song could play on current mainstream country radio alongside the pop and rock country being played there, but it’s an unapologetic throwback to the neo-traditional sound of the nineties. Furthermore, Gaskin sounds uncannily similar to one of the decade’s superstars, Travis Tritt. In fact, his soulful voice coupled with a hardcore production, not to mention theme, could easily be mistaken as an unreleased album track of Tritt’s. However, as appealing as that comparison may seem, the song itself sounds more like good filler rather than a strong single that can stand on its own, therefore, rendering it almost all but forgettable.
The barroom weeper possesses many of the elements that make a great, pure country song, but the package as a whole comes off as more of a calculated imitation rather than a fresh take on one of country music’s most prosperous decades.
Gaskin’s got the powerhouse pipes and admirable traditional sensibilities, including being the sole writer of the song. So, all he needs now is to develop his own identity, which will make him more memorable in his own right instead of seeming like a very talented clone of somebody else.
Ultimately though, “Mr. Bartender” and its singer are a welcome diversion and, hopefully, a sign of country music becoming more recognizable as such again.
Written by Bradley Gaskin
Listen: Mr. Bartender