November 6, 2012
How many female country artists these days kick off a radio run with two back-to-back songs of heartache, both with audible fiddle and steel to boot?
At any rate, Jana Kramer is shaping up to be the breakout surprise of 2012. Her debut single “Why Ya Wanna” was well-written, competently sung, tastefully produced, and almost inexplicably became a Top 5 hit.
Kramer offers a most worthy follow-up with her new single “Whiskey.” With its themes of emotional angst and regret, it will likely imbue a most welcome shot of melancholy into the mix of interchangeable love songs and party anthems that populate country radio. “Whiskey” is built around an easily accessible, yet surprisingly effective metaphor, as seen in its winning chorus:
“Should have just called it like I saw it
Should have just called for help, and ran like hell that day
The burning, the stinging, the high and the heat
And the left-me-wanting-more feeling when he kissed me
I should have just called him Whiskey.”
Though things are glossed-up just enough to keep from offending P.C. country radio standards, both the production and vocal stay out of the way of the lyrics, and the moaning fiddle intro feels like the return of an old friend. Though the sound of the record is not squarely “traditional,” it demonstrates that it is possible to incorporate pop sounds and melodies without entirely abandoning country genre signifiers.
As for whether Kramer can keep the ball rolling commercially after scoring one bona-fide country hit, we’ll have to see. But based on the quality of her first two radio outings, one would definitely hope that Jana Kramer is here to stay.
Written by Catt Gravitt and Sam Mizell