This roundup features a few summer ditties that don’t succeed in their approach.
“Lovin’ On You”
Written by Luke Combs, Thomas Archer, Ray Fulcher, and James McNair
I get it – no one wants to hear quarantine-themed songs. But if we had to dump “Six Feet Apart” for the Brooks & Dunn-knockoff, couldn’t we at least get the song that actually features them? Granted, while I would prefer “1,2, Many,” there’s nothing inherently wrong with this: the saxophone interplay with the saloon piano and pedal steel gives this a raucous pulse and some distinguishable flavor, at least for modern country music standards. But it’s still, at its core, an interchangeable love song with some bad vocal mixing toward the end, and while I get why Combs and his team are playing it safe – who wouldn’t want to capitalize on his momentum? – it’s a slightly disappointing choice.
Written by Brad Clawson, Brock Berryhill, Greylan James, and Jamie Paulin
It’s only slightly less tone-deaf for the moment than his previous single, but Kenny Chesney’s “Happy Does” is a shot of optimism that misses the mark. Granted, it’s the umpteenth Chesney single about living in the moment and finding happiness in one’s own way, but it’s also the umpteenth one to come with a condescending attitude and from a place of privilege. Drinking a beer and hanging a palm tree in one’s truck is an empty, nihilistic way to find comfort in any capacity, especially now.
Granted, the ultimate point is to find comfort in the little details of life, but Chesney’s attempts to sell that sentiment always feel preachy; some people have to, you know, face their fears, especially when they don’t live on an island paradise and have a humongous net worth. There’s a nice rollick to the acoustics in the midrange on the chorus, and I think Chesney’s intentions are always admirable with these types of songs, but this is empty comfort that breezes right by.
Written by Camaron Ochs and Jack Antonoff
Well, I suppose I can retire my rant from my “Redwood Tree” review, as Cam has scored a rare record deal that lets her stay with RCA Records while Triple Tigers promotes her material to country radio. She’s long overdue for a sophomore album, but I’m left wishing they pushed “Redwood Tree” over new single “Classic,” instead.
One listen through will confirm it was made for the summer months, what with the driving, bubbly acoustics and all. But it borrows from the standard modern pop formula of favoring loud percussion over a strong melody, which, ironically enough, means it’s automatically just not as catchy with that approach. It doesn’t help that the lyrics are fairly dull, even if they’re not the driving focus of the track – a “Johnny & June” reference to explain why your love with a significant other is classic? Really?
Without a strong pulse to this, it’s a fairly boring, disappointing track overall. On a positive note, her upcoming album will include “Diane.”
“Ain’t Bad For a Good Ol’ Boy”
Written by Mo Pitney, Trent Willmon, and Phil O’Donnell
I’m a firm believe that there are some books you can judge by their cover, er … title. The real test is whether or not they match those expectations. Upon listening to Mo Pitney’s first piece of new music in four years, I’m left thinking, “really?”
Granted, it’s not quite the southern pandering schlock I expected – Pitney’s brand of this is more homespun and not as forced. But that doesn’t mean his daily routine makes for an interesting song idea. It doesn’t help that the second verse devotes itself to talking about his significant other, but only describes her by her looks rather than, you know, any interesting character attributes about her. Again, it’s not all as smug as it sounds, but Pitney is better than this. And while I didn’t agree with critics who found the production approach on his debut album dull, I understand their concerns here.
Like with Cam, I’m excited we’re finally getting another album from Pitney, but I wanted more from this.