“Makin’ Me Look Good Again”
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.