Single Review: Drake White, “Makin’ Me Look Good Again”

“Makin’ Me Look Good Again”
Drake White

Written by Drake White, Monty Criswell, and Shane Minor

As the prevailing style among the men dominating country radio has shifted from bro-country to an R&B influenced sound, something that has largely gone unremarked upon is that very, very few of those men actually have the vocal chops to pull off what they’re attempting.

“Makin’ Me Look Good Again,” the third single from Drake White’s terrific debut album, Spark, provides a reprieve from the thin-voiced, would-be lotharios who have been topping the charts with repellent Pick-Up Artist anthems.

White’s previous singles were all elevated by his ingratiating performances, but “Makin’ Me Look Good Again” showcases what he can do when he wraps his voice around a truly exceptional song. The rugged soulfulness he brought to his breakthrough hit, “Livin’ the Dream,” is even better-suited to an R&B-inspired ballad that owes a debt to vintage Stax Records singles rather than aping early-aughts hits by Nelly.

The song is fundamentally about insecurity and weakness, as White sings about feeling as though he’s been “drug through the keyhole of that back door” and having eyes that are “bloodshot red behind these shades.” White’s narrator has been put through the ringer and questions his worth, describing himself as little more than “rust on a barbed wire.” The details are distinctive, and they ground the song’s narrative in a fully-realized relationship.

And it’s the strength of that relationship that ultimately leads to White’s redemption: “And then those loving arms, they pull me back in / There you go, baby, makin’ me look good again.” Having someone who still sees him as worthwhile even when he feels at his lowest is a powerful thing, and White celebrates with real conviction.

There’s no underselling White’s performance. His performance is outsized and passionate without resorting to needless shouting or melisma, and he deftly maneuvers between the emotional extremes of weariness and reverence as the song requires. By all rights, it should be White’s star-making turn.

Grade: A

5 Comments

  1. I don’t mean this as a criticism at all, but this reminds me of Blue Ain’t Your Color, Die A Happy Man, and Holding Onto You (Miranda album track). It has the same bluesy feel to it, which is something I tend to love.

  2. I hadn’t heard of Drake White before today, but he’s earned himself a spot on my Spotify list with this performance. Not as sold on some of his other songs (his voice lacks the same qualities he has here on ‘Equator’ for example) but this one’s definitely a keeper. Love me some gravelly voiced male singers.

  3. @ Jason,

    I definitely hear the stylistic comparisons to the Urban and Lambert tracks; less so with Rhett’s song, which sounds like Ed Sheeran. If country artists are going to incorporate an R&B influence, I would much prefer the approach that White takes here than to the Nelly / Ginuwine / Joe knock-offs that Chris Lane et. al. are peddling.

  4. I agree re: the approach, but I think Rhett’s song (which is derivative of Sheeran, whose song was derivative of Marvin Gaye) is more in line with older R&B than with Nelly or Ginuwine. That was more of my point.

    I saw White open for Little Big Town about 16 months ago and remember liking him.

  5. In my opinion, Drake White should absolutely pursue a blues career. If it really is him playing the piano, he is obviously very talented and can improvise like a true bluesman. His voice is much more well-suited for blues than country, with his ability to sing softly, yet let out gravelly vocals when it is called for, and of course dragging out chords when necessary. Much praise for White for this, as I feel that, unfortunately, the genre of Blues is becoming forgotten and losing its emphasis. Great work by a new artist.

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