Single Review: Drake White, “It Feels Good”

Drake White It Feels Good

“It Feels Good”
Drake White

Written by: Derek George, Philip Pence, and Drake White

Its content— what with its talk of layin’ by a riverbank, dippin’ toes in the water, and picking up a carton of smokes— may be all too familiar at this point, but what elevates Drake White’s “It Feels Good” above so many other purely escapist singles it its attention to craft and its casual wit. The lyrical hook is perhaps too simple to stand on its own—and, it’s worth mentioning, resorts to the increasingly common trope of repeating words without adding more meaning— so White and his co-writers make sure that the melody in the chorus is catchy and singalong ready.

Moreover, there’s a real sense of playfulness to the song, as White sings of “dancin’ like [he] just saw the Holy Ghost” and drawls a slant rhyme out of “river bank” and “wink.” As a piece of songwriting, the construction is airtight and is a reminder that there’s still an art to creating songs that are purely fun.

The song’s production includes little more than some enthusiastic handclaps, a looped jaw-harp, a wailing harmonica, and a prominent steel guitar, and it’s a terrific amalgam of traditional instrumentation with an ear for contemporary trends. “It Feels Good” sounds progressive, but it’s also recognizable as a country record.

Even better is that the production doesn’t get in the way of White’s full-throated performance. While it’s easy to imagine an even more powerful vocalist—Marc Broussard springs immediately to mind, but Chris Stapelton or Gary Allan would fit the bill, too—absolutely nailing this song to the wall, White blusters and growls through a thoroughly winning vocal turn. White’s enthusiasm is catching, and it makes “It Feels Good” one of the most refreshing singles of 2015 thus far.

Grade: A-


  1. I like the song, but I doubt it would receive an A- if a mainstream singer sang it. It has all the tropes: repeating words, beer mentions, honey shaking it etc. I am adding the song to my Spotify playlist, but other than the root-like sound, I cannot readily tell the difference between this and a bro-country song. It is pure escapism which I love, but I cannot in good conscience rate a song higher based on its sound qualities when other country rock like “Little Toy Guns” receive high marks for lyrical excellence which cancels out the non-country arrangement.

  2. CountryKnight,
    Note that the Underwood review and this review were written by two different people with different preferences/emphasis. As for me, if a mainstream artist recorded a song that sounded as good as this, I’d give it an A or A- too.

  3. I know that. I was just using it as an example for an overall view of music. This site just seem to have more of a preference for lesser-known artists.

    Well Leeann, you can do not wrong in my eyes since you gave Josh Turner an A- for “Lay Low”.

  4. Interesting observation, which is correct, but not for the reason that you seem to be implying (You seem to be saying that CU gives inflated reviews to lesser known artists because they’re lesser known artists.). I suppose you’re right in the way that the artists that are more well known, the artists played on radio, are generally not making good music right now, which most of our readers (at least) seem agree with. . . Just remember that Miranda Lambert was our number one album of 2014, Kevin (and other writers here) is open about preferring more contemporary country music. It’s just that, as I previously said, the more well known artists/the artists played on radio are just not making good music in general. So, it stands to reason that we’d give lesser known artists better reviews, but it’s not that they’re not mainstream that’s the draw for us, it’s that they’re making music that sounds better. If Drake did this same song with a Jason Aldean production and a few gross lyrics thrown in, as Aldean tends to do, it’d surely get a bad grade, even as a lesser known artist.

  5. Hardly a classic , but certainly a decent enough tune. I like the fact that Drake isn’t competing with the band to be heard – this is a solid B

  6. I can assure you that my grade would be the same regardless of the singer, so long as the singer were as capable as White. And it’s pretty insulting– and, frankly, baseless, considering the favorable reviews I’ve written of mainstream artists here and elsewhere– to suggest otherwise.

    Also, White is signed to Dot records, the same label that has handled radio promo for Maddie & Tae, and this single has an official adds date of 3/16 for country radio. This single may not necessarily sound like what other mainstream acts are doing, but I don’t see how he doesn’t qualify as a mainstream artist. It’s not like this is a review of a Bluegrass or folk artist or someone who is being promoted to AAA radio…

  7. The imbalance between grades for lesser known artists and mainstream artists is that the latter get far more coverage. Lesser known artists are usually covered here because we’re already passionate about them and want to give them some of the same exposure that mainstream artists get from all sites, including ours.

    Put another way, Americana or independent music that we don’t like usually gets no coverage at all, and in previous years, even the stuff we liked usually only showed up on year-end lists.

    We’re trying to cover more of that stuff throughout the year so the lists make a bit more sense to our regular readers and so we can do a better job living up to the “Universe” part of her name.

    Leeann is very on point when describing my own preferences. If it wasn’t for the writing that my colleagues do here (and the recommendations they make via e-mail), I would never even hear, let alone purchase, a good chunk of the non-mainstream music we cover. I also tend to like quite a bit less of it than my fellow writers. I love traditional country music and pop-flavored country music, but don’t have much of an ear (or taste) for Americana, folk, or bluegrass.

    My criticism of pop and rock flavored country music stems from it being done poorly, not from it being done at all. Pop records in particular are very hard to produce, and country producers can’t seem to make a distinction between “pop” and “cluttered”, or between “rock” and “loud.”

  8. I suppose my view of mainstream is different from the majority. I view a mainstream artist as someone with a lot of single success under their belts regardless of their label. Diverse thinking, what you gonna do?

    It may be me, but this site (like some other music sites) seems to be more positive towards lesser known acts. I can be wrong. Probably am.
    I thought it was pretty insulting and baseless (to use your terminology) to bring up politically regressive to describe a previous Miranda Lambert single while describing a new single from her. Just because society deemed some of her memories as “outdated” hardly means the acts themselves should be discarded. Popular opinion can be a shaky thing and often wrong, except when one wants to promote their view of course. That goes for any group or person. Society is pretty loose in my opinion and quick to cut and run to promote their own generation. (And I am an unfortunate member of the newest generation)

    Either way, if you write a review, you risk someone questioning your opinion or sincerity. The same way a singer risks a poor review (or misinterpretation or different interpretation of their music) when they release a song. I didn’t raise the question to be insulting. It is the devil’s advocate in me. You should hear me in my service fraternity meetings.

    Plenty fine with a different sound than most mainstream acts!


    Once again, excellent points. As for loud and cluttered, I think I shattered my eardrums with the playing of music at 100 volume in my dorm room. I can’t quite tell the difference anymore.

  9. You make a lot of assumptions about the intention of the writers here that are inconsistent with the body of work that they’ve created over time.

    Not sure what the obsession is with referring to “Automatic” as regressive, but it’s an error to view it as being the opposite of progressive in a political sense. “Automatic” is regressive in the sense that it longs for going backward in terms of technology. The reviewer rejected the notion that the changes bemoaned in that song were negative. It had nothing to do with politics.

  10. Either way, if you write a review, you risk someone questioning your opinion or sincerity. The same way a singer risks a poor review (or misinterpretation or different interpretation of their music) when they release a song. I didn’t raise the question to be insulting. It is the devil’s advocate in me.

    As of this coming June, I will have been publishing music criticism for a full decade. I am well aware that the critic is every bit as open to criticism from their readers as artists are from critics. I welcome discussion and challenging points-of-view when they are presented in ways that are civil. That type of discussion is one of the things that I value most about Country Universe and is one reason among many that I choose to write here.

    Here’s a link to a post in which I say precisely that.

    To that end, you didn’t “raise a question,” nor did you play “Devil’s Advocate” in your original statement.

    You said: “but I doubt it would receive an A- if a mainstream singer sang it”.

    You made an overt assumption that was both directly insulting to me (and indirectly insulting to the other writers at this site) and wholly without merit, as would be revealed by even the most cursory look at my body or work or the respective bodies of work of my co-writers here.

    And, when that was pointed out to you, you attempted to derail the thread with a digression about my Miranda Lambert review from earlier this year, which was entirely irrelevant to your original comment or to my direct reply to you.

    Again: However you or anyone else might choose to define “mainstream” artists, I’ve gone to bat for plenty of them, as has every other writer here.

  11. Country Knight: It may be me, but this site (like some other music sites) seems to be more positive towards lesser known acts. I can be wrong. Probably am.

    When I’m going for a descriptive statement, I like to make sure the data actually backs it up. So when I see a descriptive statement without any data to back it up, my fingers and mind get itchy.

    I went back through the reviews from Country Universe since the beginning of 2013 (actually, late November 2012, to include a singles roundup by Tara Seetharam) to evaluate the claim you made. In order to capture your definition of mainstream: “I view a mainstream artist as someone with a lot of single success under their belts regardless of their label,” I defined as “mainstream” anybody who had had at least 2 t20 singles in the 5 years preceding that single’s release.

    There were a total of 117 singles reviewed from mainstream acts by the above definition, compared to 71 singles from non-mainstream acts by the above definition. Then, I looked at grades for singles, and coded them as follows:

    A=5, B=4, C=3, D=2, F=1
    A- = 4.67, B+ = 4.33, B- = 3.67, C+=3.33, C-=2.67

    Here’s what I found:

    Mainstream reviews, across all writers, got an average score of 3.68, or a B-.
    Non-mainstream reviews, across all writers, got an average score of 3.77, also a B-.

    The difference between the 2 averages is statistically insignificant, and the averages have converged even further since the beginning of 2014. So, you were right that you were wrong about this site’s orientation towards less mainstream acts.

    I also broke down the reviews by site writers (with the requirement that each writer have submitted at least 5 reviews in the past 2 years, which knocked out Sam G. for now – sorry!). I can email the breakdowns if the writers themselves are really interested (some of the results would surprise anybody who assumes certain writers here are prejudiced against or in favor of mainstream acts), but to directly address the comment, “I doubt [Drake White’s “It Feels Good”] would receive an A- if a mainstream singer sang it,” I’m going to show the breakdown for Jonathan Keefe for all singles he’s ever reviewed for Country Universe: a total of 10.

    JK’s average grade for singles from mainstream acts (5 reviewed): 4.2 (a low B+)
    JK’s average grade for singles from non-mainstream acts (5 reviewed): 4.1 (a high B)

    So, far from being a writer who systematically prefers non-mainstream acts, Jonathan Keefe is actually a grade-inflating mainstream sycophant!!!! OK not really. ;) But the sample does show how the presumption that a mainstream act would, due to prior exposure/success, fare worse in JK’s reviews is, in fact, baseless.

    Most CU writers individually average in the B-/B range when it comes to single reviews without a huge difference between mainstream and non-mainstream acts, and that’s without considering mitigating circumstances regarding how songs get assigned to individual writers for review.

    About this song, I’m on board with it. What the song lacks in lyrical originality it makes up for in personality, via Drake White’s performance and the swampy instrumentation. “Little Toy Guns” came up in an earlier comment, and though these 2 songs have little in common, they do share 1 feature that makes them both appeal to me – the danger/darkness in the music that brings an edge to the predominant vibe of the song. In “Little Toy Guns,” the darkness juxtaposed with the little girl’s innocence heightens the pain of the moment. In “It Feels Good,” the danger juxtaposed with the carefree lyric heightens the heady abandon of the moment – unlike the rote fun that’s dominated at country radio, there’s actually a sense of spontaneity and immediacy in this song. “It Feels Good” grabs and holds my attention, & it gets me jamming along. I think that’s exactly why it might struggle at country radio, but hopefully, the influx of soul/R&B onto playlists will give it a chance.

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