Written by RaeLynn, Nicole Gallyon, and Jimmy Robbins
Unlike her first two singles– the revolting one-two punch of “God Made Girls” and “For a Boy,” as unappealing a pair of debut offerings as any in recent memory– “Love Triangle” provides at least some explanation of RaeLynn’s having a major label recording contract.
“Love Triangle” is told from the first-person perspective of a child who has been used as a pawn in her parents’ nasty divorce: in one minute, she’s running out to jump into her father’s old Ford truck, and in the next, she’s crying out the window of that truck for her mother, still standing inside the front door of her home.
The narrative is wholly believable and empathetic without ever turning toward the maudlin. Even the song’s lyrical hook, which makes terrific use of the natural meter of its language, is delivered in a straightforward, matter-of-fact way: “Some mamas and daddies let their heartstrings tear and tangle/And some of us get stuck in a love triangle.” It’s a credit to RaeLynn and to her co-writers, Nicole Gallyon and Jimmy Robbins, that “Love Triangle” is one of the better-written songs shipped to country radio in 2016. If this is indicative of the kind of material she’s capable of writing, it will be interesting to hear what else she has in store.
The problem, then, is that RaeLynn has no business singing it.
She’s every bit as poor a technical vocalist as Tucker Beathard or Morgan Wallen, and the pinched, nasal timbre of her voice remains as deeply unpleasant here as it did on her prior efforts. Moreover, for all of the pitch-correction technology available in Nashville, she’s still noticeably and significantly flat for the entirety of the song. While the more youthful qualities of her tone and phrasing are appropriate for the song’s POV, her technical deficiencies are a serious liability to “Love Triangle.” That the stripped-down production foregrounds her performance only highlights this problem.
The result is that “Love Triangle” isn’t a trainwreck like “God Made Girls,” but it’s a missed opportunity: In the hands of a superior vocalist, this could have been one of the year’s finest singles instead of one of its most frustrating.