“Damn Country Music”
Written by Jessi Alexander, Cary Barlowe, and Josh Thompson
“Damn Country Music” comes damn close to being a damn good song about chasing the country music dream.
There are some excellent details sprinkled throughout, and the arrangement is pure country. Okay, not pure country, but country enough, at least in that seventies AM radio kind of way.
Where it falls short, unfortunately, is the vocal. McGraw might actually be singing it fine, but it’s hard to tell, given that his performance sounds like it was autotuned to within half an inch of its life.
Ultimately, that is what keeps it from being a top of the line effort. If you’re going to sing about how you’ve given up everything in your life to chase a hopeless dream, you’ve got to communicate one of two things.
A deep hunger and fearless determination, which both pulsate throughout classics such as “Wrong Side of Memphis” and “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow.”
Or a sense of hopelessness and failure, like you can hear on “Detroit City” and “Heartbreak Town.”
“Damn Country Music” is written as if it’s an example of the latter two, but it needed an unfiltered, raw vocal from McGraw to fully convey its intent.
Because we didn’t get that, the resulting record is good – quite good, even – but not great.
Damn studio trickery.