Single Review: Cam, “Burning House”

Cam Burning House

“Burning House”

Written by Jeff Bhasker, Cam, and Tyler Johnson

Don’t let the stripped down production fool you.

“Burning House” sounds refreshing at first because its not taking its cues from eighties hair metal or nineties light rock.

Instead, it goes back to AM rock of the early seventies. The confessional kind that Janis Ian and James Taylor cut their teeth on.

“Burning House” isn’t remotely country, which is disappointing for two reasons. One, the sparse production feels cold, and could use the warmth of a steel guitar or a lonesome fiddle. Two, said steel guitar and lonesome fiddle could distract from the flavorless vocal and meandering metaphor.

It’s a record that not only doesn’t get where it’s going. It doesn’t really go anywhere at all. Just walking in circles.

“Burning House” sounds like an acoustic performance in a radio studio session, the kind that reveals that the performer just sounds better with the bells and whistles of a full production around them.

This isn’t meant to be a knock of Cam’s artistry as a whole. There are artists that I love who sound just as lost in similar sonic settings.

Everything about this particular record – the vocal, the lyric, the production – just sounds unfinished. Gotta finish building the house before you burn it down.

Grade: C


  1. I admit to being a bit surprised at this review. I bought “Burning House” and 4 other Cam songs a few days ago. If this is unfinished I guess I like unfinished. I like Cam’s voice. I like the song – the haunting quality of the melody. I would give it an A.

  2. Not very interesting lyric – her voice is okay, actually more country than either the lyric or the production.

    The production needs something, I’m just not sure exactly what

  3. Good call on this song needing some fiddle or steel to fill it out. I knew it was missing something, but I didn’t know what. That being said, I do like this song, I’m not sure how much, but I do like it. I think the “meandering” nature of it is purposeful, considering how the narrator is (as she says) “sleepwalking” through this relationship. I also agree with bob that the song has a great haunting quality to it.

  4. This is quite likely the first time in several months I’d rate a single more highly than the overall consensus here.

    Firstly, I really enjoy the lyrical ambiguity here. This is that kind of song where, as far as songwriting is concerned, I found myself revisiting the lyrics and finding a little more to interpret and appreciate each time. The couplet: “Love isn’t all that it seems I did you wrong, I’ll stay here with you until this dream is gone.” especially was poignant hearing.

    Secondly, I really like the restraint and understated swell of its production and arrangement. I will admit that it would quite likely be even better with some flourishes of well-timed pedal steel, possibly a hint of dobro. But this is still, as far as arrangement and lyricism is concerned, a contemporary country song…………………so I’m not going to complain much here.


    I’m giving this an A-. Easily one of the best singles on the Top 60 presently, and as much as I loathe the “On The Verge” shenanigans regardless of song, I am rooting for this to become a breakout hit beyond the initial payola.

  5. I feel like I need to disclose that this song has significantly grown on me. Since I don’t listen to radio, I hadn’t heard it since I had listened to it from this review. But one of my frends happened to have a country radio station playing in her car a month or so ago and when I heard this song, I was like “What the heck is this? I really like it!” I’ve just preordered her album and I’m really digging “Half Broke Heart” and I love her voice.

  6. While success on the country music charts has no influence as to what songs or albums I buy, I am happy for Cam that with “Burning House” she has cracked the top 10 on both media base and billboard charts. I also like “Half Broke Heart” – and the rest of her EP.

  7. This one really grew on me. I was fairly indifferent toward it at first, but the vocal harmonies in the chorus are just lovely and eventually won me over.

    It’s not as strong a song as some of their best material, but this reminds me of something that either Suzy Bogguss or Pam Tillis would have recorded back in the 90s. Cam isn’t nearly as distinctive a singer, but that she invites the comparisons at all speaks well of her and the single!

  8. …i called it “a most unusal song” (relative to the genre’s usual staple) and “a chanson climbing up the country charts” in switzerland’s country style magazine. one of the finest not-exactly-country-country-songs ot the year. love it and cam’s vocals.

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