Written by Michael Busbee, Lee Thomas Miller & Chris Wallin
There is no nuanced way to say it. Garth Brooks’ long anticipated comeback single is really bad with a little bit of good to keep it from being really, really bad.
We’ll start with the good. The message and concept of the song is admirable and hits my personal sweet spot of songs that promote love, peace and goodness in the world. He posits that it’s simply people loving people that will make the world better. It’s a simplistic view of things, but a sweet one that I can get behind on a basic level. In fact, the lyrics are well constructed and not even too cloying to sell the sentiment, which is a difficult line to balance.
But where the song goes bad is the part where it’s difficult to even hear those well constructed lyrics due to a loud, indistinct production. Despite Brooks’ attempts to sing-shout over the blaring guitar, which happens to be of no service to the song, it takes a few listens to be able to parse out the words, not to mention that Garth’s shouting takes all of the typical warmth out of his voice.
Ultimately, the cluttered production, the imbalanced engineering and the obscured vocals turn something that could’ve been an inspiring anthem into a terrible mess.
After being immersed in Shovels and Rope’s new crisply produced and brightly engineered album for the past two weeks, which was actually recorded in their garage on a shoestring budget, I just don’t have a lot of leeway to give to somebody who is arguably the biggest superstar of country music and beyond. I at least expected his 2014 recording to hold up to those of his Allen Reynolds-produced nineties albums, but was disappointed by what sounds like a garage recording instead. Something is backwards here.