As wrong as it may be, the consistently gorgeous arrangements and Kimberly Perry’s compelling vocals almost make up for the lyrical deficiencies found on The Band Perry’s debut album. As it has been with all their singles so far, The Band Perry’s story of style being greater than substance continues with this promising group’s latest single as well.
With its acoustic based instrumentation, Kimberly’s pretty vocals and a sing-able melody, “All My Life” sounds like a typical love song on the surface. The girl isn’t asking for everything, just that the object of her obsession (check out the song’s bridge) loves her all his life. As it was with “If I Die Young”, however, the sentiment of the song makes perfect sense, but the nitty gritty of the lyrics are somewhat distorted or, perhaps, too fanciful. While there’s nothing wrong with asking if someone will love you all your life, it’s baffling how jars of sand or fireflies in a lamp delivered by someone in a tux proves anything. Grade: B
Not unlike the band’s previous three singles, “All Your Life” has an earthy sparkle that makes it hard to easily dismiss: it feels as earnest as a Taylor Swift song and sounds as charmingly simple as a Dixie Chicks song circa 1999. But the lyrics teeter between sleepy and trite, with Kimberly’s sprightly vocal nuances –at once natural, textured and emotive– serving as the most interesting part of the “love” story.
That is, until the vanilla turns to rocky road two and a half minutes in. Just as the piano-driven breakdown of “You Lie” is enough to keep me from switching the station, “All Your Life” delivers a sucker punch with an eerie, twisted bridge, sonically and lyrically: “You could be the centerpiece of my obsession if you would notice me at all.” In retrospect, the confession gives the rest of the song an intriguing and slightly psychotic undertone – you get the feeling Kimberly wants to follow up benign lyrics like “Would you walk to the end of the ocean just to fill my jar with sand?” with “Well, would you? WOULD YOU?”
And just like that, with a little injection of campiness, the song comes to life. Grade: B
Their singles have really been all over the place, haven’t they? “Hip to My Heart” was just wretched, but “If I Die Young” was a once-in-a-career kind of hit. “You Lie” fell on the wrong side of just all right, and now “All Your Life” is a bit better than average.
The melody, especially in the refrain, is the real selling point here, and the light-handed arrangement and solid vocal harmonies help to make this one a pleasant listen. Still, a couple of nicely turned phrases in each verse aren’t enough to overcome the song’s fundamental cliches, and Kimberly Perry wanders off pitch more than a couple of times.
The bigger issue for me is that the single lacks a strong hook: “All Your Life” needed one standout line or distinctive production flourish to make it something more than just kind-of pretty. Grade: B-
Kevin John Coyne:
There are a lot of things that work about the Band Perry. I’m not hearing much of them on this particular track.
I love the bridge breakdown that recalls Nickel Creek at their trippiest, and I genuinely appreciate a country single actually sounding country.
But the lyrics and the vocal performances? Pure amateur hour. Grade: C-
As others are noting, two things click: 1) The organic arrangement; 2) The cool bridge, which uses minor tonality better than any country single in recent memory.
Otherwise, though, it sounds like something Colbie Caillat would have written as a teenager. The case of Kimberly is a weird matter, too – certainly she’s got range, but you get a lot of ungainly pronunciations like “o-SHUH–hun.” Eh. Grade: C+
I love The Band Perry’s sound and style, as well as Kimberly’s voice, so I would definitely like to be pulling for them. The lyrics are where they tend to lose me. In this case, the deficiencies don’t come in the form of the wonky, off-beat “I oughta kill you right now and do the whole wide world a service” Band Perry kind of way. It’s just kind of blah, and a bit on the cheesy side. The bridge is more interesting, but I still don’t like how the song lets me sit through two boring verses before it makes any real attempt to engage me in the lyrics.
And yet, I still find the restrained country-bluegrassy arrangement so absorbing. While Kimberly’s vocal performance is not technically perfect, I still find it compelling and believable in its own way (and preferable to the buzzy, processed auto-tune effects that I hear on other artists’ records). Overall, the single is good enough that I’ll probably come back to listen periodically, but I would still like to see the band making greater artistic strides with their lyrics on future releases. Without a solid lyric that’s strong from start to finish, they’re still one base shy of a home run. Grade: B-
Written by Brian Henningsen and Clara Henningsen
Tara, I love your “Would you? Would you?” observation.:) Great point.
The bridge is pretty col. I like Kevin’s “trippy” adjective for it. It’s definitely the most interesting part of the song.
I didn’t notice a vocal deficiency in Kimberly’s voice, though I did note the enunciation oddities.
I like the “Would you? WOULD YOU?” observation too. I also think it’s interesting to note the similarity between the bridge in this song and the piano breakdown in “You Lie” – That was my favorite part of the song “You Lie,” and I thought it was so cool that I was ready to forgive all the “My daddy’s gonna straighten you out” nonsense.
I see a little more variance this time around. B to C- seems like a pretty significant grade range.
Ha, thanks :) I don’t hear any deficiencies in Kimberly’s performance, either.
Kimberly Perry’s Oh-Shun will never be as bad as the entire of song of If Hev-in’ Wadn’t So Far Uh-Way by one Justin Moore. I can take one or two, will call them different, variations of a word here and there over an entire song.
First, what I like. I strongly echo the sentiment of Ben that this song is a pretty good when it comes to sound and style; it’s got a lot of sizzle there. I am completely sucked in from beginning to end by the bluegrass-esque production. I’ll always be a sucker with open ears and a soft heart for anything in today’s modern country universe that actually attempts to be a country song.
I’ll agree with virtually all of you though and say that the lyrics leave room for improvement. Swooning a guy with jars of sand and a couple lanterns full of fireflies is certainly something new to me. Not entirely sure what I’d do if I found out that someone who really liked me was going after my heart with those two items. Their is always room to try something new lyrically in a song, and they do it here, but it should also makes sense in the grand scheme. This doesn’t! Those two phrases are almost plain dopey in a non-charm inducing fashion. I don’t mean dopey as a slam either, merely a piece of hopefully constructive criticism.
The two separate phrases arise the same questions such as “who exactly is that phrase relating back to?” and “where is it’s added lyrical value to the overall theme?”. Words and phrases need be constructed in a manner so that the listener can know and ultimately feel the emotion the lyrics and full song are trying to elicit. Here, the general confusion related to the lyrical construction don’t relate back to the listener and nor fit the message as a whole.
When you’re spending a good amount of time as a listener in the dark, trying to figuring out why something doesn’t fit, then whatever it is has become a detraction from other qualities the song my have.
I think the lyrics here are more what I would call quirky than bad. “You Lie” is another story. I agreed with Leeann’s review on that song earlier this year. I think of “All My Life” as a decent effort.
I got the album a few months ago and overall I like it. I even love the sound of “Hip to My Heart” which I see that JK thought was wretched. While it’s a lyrical piece of fluff, it has it’s place. Sometimes I just want a song that sounds good and requires no thinking. It’s the perfect type of song to put on a playlist after being emotionally drained by a sad song like Kathy Mattea’s “Where’ve You Been”.
I had a mild soft spot for “Hip to My Heart” myself The lyrics were downright stupid, but it had an infectious energy to it as well as an interesting production arrangement.
I LOVE the arrangement and production of this track, but I like this one nearly as much as The Band Perry’s previous two singles.
I really appreciate that they aren’t afraid to be themselves, instead of turning to a more pop sound after achieving breakthrough success with “If I Die Young.”
I hope they stick with this formula for their sophomore album, because it works extremely well for them.
I only hope they can record some stronger songs for the next album though; material that can benefit so much from an organic true country sound could blow up with some great lyrics to match.
I hated “Hip to My Heart” at first. Now I think I’d really like it with a more interesting singer and sans the Coca-Cola line.
I must say I really enjoy this song. The arrangement and vocal performance is really what sells it for me; I understand that Kimberlee isn’t technically perfect when singing this song, but as others have mentioned, it feels so organic and from the heart. Kind of like “Need You Now,” actually.
While I agree that the song slips up a bit with the lyrics, I can certainly understand them a good deal better than If I Die Young. They’re a little cheesy no doubt, but I think that we can forgive it since the entire arrangement of this song is just perfect. :)