“Small Town Hypocrite”
Written by Caylee Hammack, Mikey Reeves, and Jared Scott
Far too much of the discourse around contemporary country centers on misguided notions of “authenticity”– call it the Midland dilemma– without looking any deeper than styling choices and whether or not an artist “paid their dues” in a particular way. Caylee Hammack tackles notions of authenticity from a completely different and far more productive perspective on “Small Town Hypocrite,” a brilliantly observed song about the personal consequences of wanting too desperately to belong.
Over a deftly plucked acoustic guitar figure, Hammack sings, “And that scholarship was a ship that sailed / When I chose you and daddy gave me hell… Took all my plans and I put ‘em in a box / Phantom pains for the wings I’d lost.” She begins her story by recounting how she and her eventual partner initially bonded over being outsiders in their small town but wanting to fit in before they settled into a relationship that changed them both. Hammack’s narrator dresses down her husband for his running around while she stares out the window at a picket fence that she never really wanted.
Ultimately, the song is a brutal self-assessment, as Hammack castigates herself for “hanging around” far longer than she knows she should have in a marriage in which she has not been her authentic self. She repeatedly asks, “Ain’t that some shit?” with increasing resignation each time she repeats it. Her delivery is raw and emotional, and Hammack’s rapid vibrato only enhances the vulnerability in her performance. She isn’t the most impressive vocalist in terms of power or range, but “Small Town Hypocrite” absolutely plays to her strengths as a performer. Though it is not her first single, “Small Town Hypocrite” announces Hammack as a major talent worth following.