The short version: “Raised On Country” is the latest addition to a long line of singles addressing authenticity concerns. Chris Young may make the track go down smoother than similar artists due to his stellar voice, but “Raised On Country” is more of a name-drop contest than a fitting tribute to musical heroes.
- Writers: Chris Young, Corey Crowder, Cary Barlowe
- Rating: 5/10
The long version: Considering there’s a new trend of country artists addressing their critics by “showing” how country they are, it’s about time Chris Young released his own “statement.” “Sellout” is a harsh, overused term, but it’s fair to say that Young’s output has been significantly sub-par in recent album eras compared to his earlier days. The cowboy hat was tossed aside years ago, and Young’s unique, sultry baritone was wasted on singles that could have been recorded by any male artist these days. His last album, Losing Sleep, only saw two singles released to radio, and neither song was anything to write home about.
With that said, “Raised On Country” is indeed “better” than many of Young’s past singles, but clearing a low bar doesn’t mean the song is actually good. To its credit, this song is one of the rare cases where I can say one of Young’s singles actually has some teeth to it in terms of its production. The swampier electric guitar and piano backing it (in certain places) creates somewhat of a throwback sound, and it’s an overall great, natural fit for Young’s voice.
But, to repeat myself from previous reviews with Riley Green as well as Brantley Gilbert and Lindsay Ell, the writing remains the song’s weakest link. With those tracks, it’s what kept them from being better, but the writing on “Raised On Country” is more problematic than anything else. This is not a fitting tribute in the slightest. The writing is surface level at best, and once again, a country song saluting the genre focuses more on the lifestyle involved than anything else.
The first verse is simply a vacuum for the most common cliches of this decade to prove how country Young is. He drives the back roads, has a southern drawl and likes to consume alcohol. I bet you didn’t see that coming.
More than that though, it’s that this “tribute” doesn’t really dig deep enough that remains its biggest fault. The verses are incredibly light, only stretching a few lines before unveiling a similarly light chorus. Young says these songs helped him survive a few heartbreaks and parties (what?), but … that’s it. As with all of these tribute songs as of late too, there’s sneaky references made to past country songs since, let’s face it, that’s the only thing interesting about these songs. Hell, Jason Aldean’s Joe Diffie references were more clever on “1994” than Young’s sole Diffie reference is here, and that’s saying something. To top off its commercialism, Young even salutes the radio in one line, because artists are still chained to this entity like a dog to a fire hydrant.
In short, “Raised On Country” isn’t a tribute to country music. It’s simply another pandering track destined to get Young another No. 1 single and call it a day. Truthfully, the lyricism is the song’s only weak spot, as Young sounds better than ever before here. But as Merle Haggard, one of the artists saluted here, once said about modern country music shortly before he passed, “It’s more of that kids stuff. It’s hot right now, but I’ll tell you what, it’s cooling off.” I can’t help but think that applies here as well.