“You’ll Accomp’ny Me”
Written by Bob Seger
Country radio has been resistant to the singles from Frankie Ballard’s third album, El Rio, which foregrounded Ballard’s classic rock influences. His fondness for the AOR of the 70s and 80s is perhaps most evident in the album’s third single, a cover of Bob Seger’s “You’ll Accomp’ny Me,” a top 20 hit from Seger’s Against the Wind album.
Seger’s plainspoken brand of working class heartland rock lends itself naturally to contemporary country; were the genre not so short-sighted, his catalogue would likely have been picked over for choice cover songs well before now. Lines like, “Gypsy wind is blowing warm tonight/The sky is starlit and the time is right” and “I’ve seen you smilin’ in the summer sun/I’ve seen your long hair flying when you run,” are a piece with the types of imagery found in many contemporary country songs.
The song’s perspective, unfortunately, shares a casually misogynist POV with much of modern country. When Ballard sings, “I’ve made my mind up that it’s meant to be/Someday baby, you’ll accomp’ny me,” it’s supposed to be wistful, but the forcefulness of his delivery and the thundering percussion make the line sound far more like a command that denies a woman’s agency than a romantic proposition.
Marshall Altman’s production skews toward the overbearing, and the single’s engineering is yet another example of the poor quality recordings since Nashville definitively lost the Loudness War. There are also obvious instances when Ballard’s voice has been AutoTuned to the point of distraction. That’s a shame, really, because Ballard’s ragged vocal tone is a natural fit with this type of material, like a slightly more polished Parker Millsap. He gives a performance that’s passionate and committed, even if he’s occasionally shouting over Altman’s bluster.
Still, there’s merit to the idea of bringing Seger’s material to contemporary country, even if this isn’t one of his better-written songs, and country radio would be better off if it incorporated a more diverse range of styles, even if this isn’t the best of Ballard’s rock-leaning material. “You’ll Accomp’ny Me” may be slightly better than most of the post-Bros currently dominating radio playlists, but it only hints at what Frankie Ballard (and Bob Seger, for that matter) could bring to the genre.