To my surprise, my question on Twitter where I asked for review recommendations actually resulted in more results than I thought it would. As such, I decided to clump them all together into one post to try and give a fair spotlight to all of the requests. One of these is a re-upload from the summer but other than that, read below for my thoughts on new songs from Garth Brooks and Robert Ellis.
Luke Combs – “Beautiful Crazy”
I haven’t quite made up my mind about Luke Combs yet.
On one hand, “Hurricane” was an alright, albeit safe choice for a debut single, and I’ve gone back and forth regarding my feelings on “When It Rains It Pours.” “One Number Away” was (in my opinion) awful though, and to say that Combs’ debut album frustrated me would be an understatement.
But apparently this new single is different, at least from what I’ve read about it thus far. I’m always willing to give artists a chance to impress me, so I jumped into this with some curious optimism.
As for my thoughts … well, all I can really say is that’s a good example of having many elements come together even if at the end of the day, they’re dressing up an uninteresting song.
The main element that’s gotten people’s attention with this is the production, namely how reminiscent it feels of a more traditional style of country music. The quieter nature of this blends in well with the steel guitar, mandolin and fiddle that creep their way in (and unlike other songs, are quite prominent throughout this song). In terms of this element, it creates a song that’s oddly refreshing in nature, and given that this is a love song, it fits the thematic nature quite well.
Vocally too, Combs is on point, showcasing a somewhat powerful performance that captures the spirit of the song quite well. His power is certainly always been a redeemable feature for him, and while he’s had his fun on other tracks (“When It Rains”), it’s nice to see a more vulnerable side to him.
Ultimately though, there’s only so many ways one can dance around the lyrical content of this track which is both uninteresting and conflicting at the same time. The entire point is to paint a picture of a girl who’s edgy and different … even though the song gives off any other notion besides that. Drinking coffee in the morning and wine at night doesn’t seem too extreme. I mean yeah, it’s pretty weird to just forgo plans just to sit and watch television in the second verse, but “crazy” isn’t really the word I’d use to describe it.
Beyond that, there’s very little reasoning as to why she’s really like this. We hear over and over that she’s wild and unpredictable and all that, but we never know why. It just makes for a fairly generic love song at the end of the day.
Still, it’s well-performed and has all the right instrumental dressing needed to turn this into a decent enough song, but it’s also one that’s just kind of “there” when it’s all said and done. Country instrumentation doesn’t mean a song is automatically amazing. For me, it doesn’t move the needle either way, but there’s worse options I guess.
Requested by Kyle Akers of Kyle’s Korner.
(No video because Garth Brooks)
Garth Brooks – “Stronger Than Me”
I haven’t liked a single one of Garth Brooks’ comeback singles and this does nothing to change that. After debuting “Stronger Than Me” at this year’s CMA Awards show, Brooks and his team decided to release it as his new single. While I can appreciate a good Brooks ballad in the vein of “Tomorrow Never Comes” or “The Dance,” “Stronger Than Me” just has very little going for it to call itself interesting.
The piano that anchors the song sounds good on a technical level, but the combination of it with a few scattered guitar lines creates a lonely, almost somber mood. This would be fine under other circumstances, but for one, the mix lacks any sort of energy to hook the listener in. The song itself is also supposed to be a romantic celebration of Brooks’ love to Trisha Yearwood, so the somber mix ends up contradicting any kind of romantic sentiment the song was shooting for.
For as personal as Brooks has made this song out to be too, it seems to lack any distinct lyrical details. She’s there for him, she’s his rock, she saves him … it sounds like the cheesier side of ’90s country, doesn’t it?
Brooks’ sincere vocal performance is a positive element of the song, but it’s not enough to save what is otherwise a very boring song.
Once again, requested by Kyle of Kyle’s Korner.
Robert Ellis – “Fucking Crazy”
To switch over to Americana now, let’s take a look at one of the more interesting artists in the scene today. Ahead of his new album, Texas Piano Man, coming Feb. 14, 2019, Robert Ellis has released a song with quite the title.
Unfortunately, the song isn’t nearly as interesting as the title implies. “Fucking Crazy” is well … fucking boring.
What holds this song back is Ellis himself. He sings most of the song in his upper register which causes him to turn in a restrained, hushed performance where the emotion just doesn’t surface. Like “Stronger Than Me,” it’s a love proclamation from a man to his wife, only this time around the scenes are a bit more interesting. It’s played up almost as an anti-love song, as the song portrays both parties as insufferable to the point where they’re the only ones who would love each other anyway.
Now if the vocal performance or production mix gave this song any sort of bite or energy, this could be interesting. On this song however, the restrained mix of piano and a few scattered guitars with unexciting backup vocalists contributes to something that sounds sedate rather than crazy.
The idea is good, but ultimately the execution is messy.
Requested by Julian Spivey of The Word.