Single Review: Jana Kramer, "Whiskey"

How many female country artists these days kick off a radio run with two back-to-back songs of heartache, both with audible fiddle and steel to boot?

At any rate, Jana Kramer is shaping up to be the breakout surprise of 2012.  Her debut single “Why Ya Wanna” was well-written, competently sung, tastefully produced, and almost inexplicably became a Top 5 hit. 

Kramer offers a most worthy follow-up with her new single “Whiskey.”  With its themes of emotional angst and regret, it will likely imbue a most welcome shot of melancholy into the mix of interchangeable love songs and party anthems that populate country radio.  “Whiskey” is built around an easily accessible, yet surprisingly effective metaphor, as seen in its winning chorus:

“Should have just called it like I saw it
Should have just called for help, and ran like hell that day
The burning, the stinging, the high and the heat
And the left-me-wanting-more feeling when he kissed me
I should have just called him Whiskey.”

Though things are glossed-up just enough to keep from offending P.C. country radio standards, both the production and vocal stay out of the way of the lyrics, and the moaning fiddle

intro feels like the return of an old friend.  Though the sound of the record is not squarely “traditional,” it demonstrates that it is possible to incorporate pop sounds and melodies without entirely abandoning country genre signifiers.

As for whether Kramer can keep the ball rolling commercially after scoring one bona-fide country hit, we’ll have to see.  But based on the quality of her first two radio outings, one would definitely hope that Jana Kramer is here to stay.

Written by Catt Gravitt and Sam Mizell

Grade:  B+

Listen:  Whiskey



  1. I’ve become quite a big fan of Jana’s music since picking up her album on release day back in June. This is one of my favorite cuts on the CD.

    I hope country radio (and more importantly the fans) embraces it and she doesn’t receive the Sunny Sweeney treatment. We need a mainstream female artist who offers something different, and decidedly country, and she’s the best to come around in a good while. I have high expectations for her future.

  2. …not as personal as taylor swift, more vulnerable than carrie underwood and nowhere near as angry as miranda lambert can get – jana kramer is a fitting add-on to the current roster of young female country artists. and she’s unblonde.

    “whiskey” is gonna be her second hit, no doubt. it has the same earworm qualities, which only unfold fully after a few listenings und speak right to the hearts and minds of the “one tree hill generation”. great “north carolina country” – an interesting blend of the urban with the rural. no back roads small town usa stuff, yet still steering clear of capital problems, except love. sounds like a rather successful and catchy formula, especially when delivered by a voice like hers.

    a star is being born.

  3. The song’s ok but maybe she could do a version for seniors some day and call it Frisky. I’m in a good mood this morning. The last song I played last night was a favorite of mine from the Corrigan Brothers.

  4. …well, bob, i think the election result actually calls for whiskey – what a fitting pick by ben. three billion dollars spent for getting much of the same again – only by a more narrow margin – to me sound (no matter, whether one likes the outcome or not) like a good reason for some whiskey – although, probably more like b&d’s “whiskey under the bridge”.

  5. Great review. I’m lukewarm on this (find the verses flimsy) and Kramer in general, but it’s encouraging to see any new woman at all show signs of breaking through, and I do appreciate that her music bothers to blend a little country into its One Tree Hill-ness. I’m not convinced that Kramer has enough strength and character as a vocalist to last, but if she finds her way to some stronger material, who knows.

  6. Haven’t warmed up to Jana Kramer yet. I find her voice to be too generic, not enough character for me. Among the female newcomers I find Kacey Musgraves to be the more compelling one. However it is encouraging that a newcomer like Jana had a major breakthrough with country radio with her debut single, hope she can sustain it with this followup single.

  7. it isn’t great, but at least there’s another woman country radio is willing to play. the more the merrier, considering some of the tripe the guys have released lately.

  8. I know I’m probably the odd guy out but I actually love her. Probably more for her potential than her achievement but I think she can accomplish greatness if given the right tools. She already is setting her apart and she seems to have this odd balance between Lee Ann Womack and Shania Twain to me.

  9. If Carrie Underwood produced records like this there is no telling how far my love would go. I like Carrie, but after hearing an albums worth of material from Jana Kramer I feel a little underwhelmed by the way she allows her records to sound. I was also dissatisfied with Carrie’s last album before “Blown Away” and so my interest in her has dwindled a bit. Jana Kramer has everything I’m looking for in a solid pop-country record. I just hope she keeps it up!

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