“Damn Country Music” comes damn close to being a damn good song about chasing the country music dream.
A haunting, evocative album closer that I can’t believe is being sent to radio, “Beautiful Stranger” showcases Toby Keith’s often overlooked talents as a vocalist and as a songwriter.
The songs of Chris Stapleton have become chart-toppers for some of country music’s most prolific artists. He’s also crafted the kind of album cuts that stop you in your tracks and resonate immediately.
I can’t figure out why Toby Keith can’t get any mileage off of the singles from his new album. It’s not even out yet, and this is the third release.
After the comparatively euphoric “Let it Go,” George Strait’s new single captures the same “take it as it comes” attitude toward life, but this time with somber resignation as the dominant feeling.
Aside from people who don’t mind that country music doesn’t sound like country music anymore, one of the common complaints that we get for our criticism of the current major country music players is that we’re expecting too much and that not every song has to be deep and meaningful.
New Zealand’s Tami Neilson made some inroads with US country audiences with 2014’s extraordinary Dynamite!, and “Lonely,” the first single from her upcoming follow-up, Don’t Be Afraid, is an exquisite throwback of a record that mines a real sense of heartbreak from its subtlety and restraint.
It’s rare that something comes along that manages to be both so inept in its execution and so appalling in its context and implications that it’s hard to know where even to begin to dissect its failings.
Its title is lifted from a bumper sticker, and the song itself offers just as much depth.
While it can be tempting to give a free pass to an artist who sounds identifiably country, the fact is a good country song does not live on steel guitar alone.