July 3, 2013
Looking at recent single releases “Red Solo Cup,” “Beers Ago,” “I Like Girls That Drink Beer,” and “Hope On the Rocks,” it would appear that Toby Keith is definitely in the zone for drinking songs right now. His chart success, however, has not been quite so consistent lately. He scored the first double-platinum hit of his career with the ubiquitous sing-along and viral video hit “Red Solo Cup” only to miss the Top 15 with both of the singles from last year’s Hope On the Rocks album.
The first single from Keith’s upcoming seventeenth studio album doesn’t exactly sound like another career hit for the two-time ACM Entertainer of the Year, who now seems to have reached the back side of his commercial peak. But it what it does sound like is a tasteful, competent, not overly self-serious chill-out jam that will no doubt hit the spot at the end of a long, hard work day.
Today’s country radio is hardly short on feel-good fare, but it’s not always as solidly produced as “Drinks After Work,” which is smartly held together by a catchy guitar hook and some sweet mandolin picking. Better yet, “Drinks After Work” actually manages to convey why its narrator seeks the respite of a few good beers as he mutters about his, “long day, no break,” straining to be optimistic in noting that “We made it to the middle of the week.” Keith’s delivery makes the narrator sound every bit as fried as the lyrics suggest. Bonus points to the writers for steering clear of goofy Blake Shelton-esque pick-up lines as the narrator casually and unpretentiously invites a lady friend to join him for his night on the town.
It certainly doesn’t hurt the proceedings that we have one of contemporary country music’s strongest male vocalists behind the mic, or that the writers thankfully bothered to give the song a melody with a little life to it. The only major knock against the song is that it lacks a strong lyrical hook. “It’s just drinks after work” is a bit on the shallow side as a listener payoff. But even when allowing for that deficiency, there are still many far less enjoyable drinking tunes currently populating country radio.
It sure is good to hear a drinking song with a little heart and character to it, and if it re-gains a little commercial steam for Toby Keith, then all the better. Bottoms up!
Written by Barry Dean, Natalie Hemby, and Luke Laird