The short version: ‘Nobody’s Everything’ is a fairly strong debut album that showcases Tucker Beathard’s strengths in a way his previous material didn’t.
The long version: First impressions in the music criticism field can be dangerous. On one hand, it’s fair to judge an artist based on their debut single. It’s their way of telling their audience who they are and what their influences are. Of course, that’s mostly an extinct concept these days in mainstream country music. That’s where the counterpoint comes in.
It’s unclear what happened with Tucker Beathard and Big Machine Records. His original debut album, Dear Someone slated for release last year ended up shelved, and his No. 2 single from 2016, “Rock On” is nowhere to be found today. It’s even fair to say nobody was really paying attention. After all, Beathard was not winning over critics with “Rock On” and its sleazy lyrical content or the faux-outlaw spirit of “Momma and Jesus.”
But out of the blue, here’s his debut album, Nobody’s Everything released under his own imprint, Mother Tucker (and Warner Nashville?) and apparently part one of an eventual double album. If this album proves anything, it proves Beathard wasn’t a good fit for Big Machine or Dot Records anyway, as he crafts something more unique that his past singles suggested on Nobody’s Everything.
Thematically, this album reads like a break-up album, both as a standard one and one for Beathard and his former label. While there are tracks that adopt an unfortunate broader scope, Nobody’s Everything also finds Beathard sharpening his songwriting skills and showcasing a more unique personality.
Beathard’s voice may be the most alienating quality about him to some, but Nobody’s Everything is also a better fit for him in this regard as well. The production isn’t sanitized like it was on his two singles. Instead, there’s a murkiness to the production quality, with a healthy mix of atmospheric rock-leaning electric guitars, spacious keys and heavier drums to establish that moodiness. It’s messy, but messy in a good way since it allows his vocals to take the backseat in the mix while the other elements are more front and center.
That mix works incredibly well for a song like “Leave Me Alone” which starts off quieter before blowing up during the chorus. “Picture To Prove It” adopts the same formula and works just as well. The meatier electric guitars give “Fight Like Hell” the edge it lacked from his former EP of the same name, and “How Gone Will I Go” has a near metal-leaning outro. In other words, the production and instrumentation actually has some muscle to it. Even if Beathard isn’t a good vocalist, he’s able to work against it by muddying up the mixes to allow a more natural, emotional delivery to reign over these songs.
Lyrically, while this album isn’t perfect, Beathard is taking steps and making progress overall. “Leave Me Alone” has him turn in a tortured performance where he just wants to move on from this particular relationship and be left alone while he does it. It’s angry and emotional, but not an unjustified sentiment. “Picture To Prove It” has a few layers of depth to it as Beathard and his lover escape their current life to just be together, with Beathard realizing she’s all he needs anyway. It’s an oddly upbeat, optimistic twist on a darker sounding song.
“This Life” is a stripped back, foreboding track about his struggles as a musician trying to make it, with strong details and imagery used to bolster its sentiment. It finds him being honest with himself and questioning the road ahead, meanwhile the following track, “How Gone Will I Go” is akin to him going over the edge.
It’s moments like this that truly show an improved Beathard, but Nobody’s Everything also has a few lackluster moments. The faux-outlaw sentiment of “Momma and Jesus” sneaks its way into the lyrical content of “Ride On” despite that song’s sentiment being good overall. “Brother,” carried over from his old EP under the name of “Take On The World With You,” is also fairly cheesy in this regard, focusing more on machismo rather than a true bond. It’s also one of the few spots where the muffled production works against it rather than with it. “Somethin’ To Say” may find a decent groove, but it also operates on fake machismo. “Hate It” doesn’t feel like it features the cleverest of hooks, and the weird mesh between the minor chords and the strings doesn’t work well for the track.
Nobody’s Everything is admittedly a hard album to talk about, mainly because it works well for a select few elements already discussed. Despite its length, Nobody’s Everything also feels full and rewarding, and even while not a perfect album, it also shows Beathard moving in the right direction overall. The muddier, darker mixes compliment his powerful, emotional deliveries well, and while the songwriting can be sloppy in certain spots, it’s also loaded with great details on other tracks.
If anything though, Nobody’s Everything shows Beathard forging his own path and doing it his own way, so any claims of nepotism won’t be warranted. And with his debut album, Beathard carves out his own sound as well.
(Decent to strong 07/10)
- Favorite tracks: “Leave Me Alone,” “Picture To Prove It,” “How Gone Will I Go,” “Fight Like Hell,” “This Life”
- Least favorite track: “Brother”