No doubt, Mr. and Mrs. Feek are very busy people these days as they host their very own variety program The Joey + Rory Show on RFD-TV, while also preparing to release their third studio album His and Hers on July 31. The first single from the project is the piano-driven ballad “When I’m Gone” – a narrator’s wistful meditation on her future death, as well as its effect on the one she holds dear.
While the piano accompaniment is a slight departure from the steel-heavy sounds Joey+Rory have typically favored, I’ll be darned if this song doesn’t bring out the absolute best in Joey Martin Feek as a vocalist. As usual, she smartly goes for subtlety over power, conveying the sorrowful tone of the lyric without wallowing in it, and turning in a performance of beautiful emotional connectivity. It’s a classic example of the unaffected down-home sincerity that has long marked Joey+Rory’s personas both on stage and off.
The lyric follow’s the narrator’s spouse through the grieving journey. “The bright sunrise will contradict the heavy fall that weighs you down/ In spite of all the funeral songs, the birds will sing their joyous song/ You’ll wonder why the earth still moves…” Joey sings in a verse that sounds vaguely reminiscent of Skeeter Davis’ “The End of the World.” The next verse depicts the bereaved one’s first night alone, showing a few shades of Reba’s “For My Broken Heart.” The lyric makes no attempt to downplay the depth of grief, but offers a hint of positivity toward the end as Joey concludes that ultimately, life will go on – “And even though you loved me still, you will know where you belong/ Just give it time, we’ll both be fine when I’m gone.” The song follows a structured narrative that is straightforward, well laid out, and most importantly, true to life.
At this point, country radio has clearly demonstrated no interest in Joey+Rory’s music, which is too bad for country radio listeners. But if the Feeks are able to build a respectable career as album artists, hopefully bolstered by exposure from their television program, there may be little reason to complain. The main thing is that, if “When I’m Gone” is any indication, Joey+Rory still have plenty of excellent music left in them. Bring on that new album.