The short version: “After A Few” finds Travis Denning playing to more generic territory than his solid debut single. Despite this, “After A Few” still somehow works well.
- Writers: Travis Denning, Kelly Archerback
- Rating: 6/10
The long version: Let’s be honest – it’s (usually) not that exciting anymore to hear a new male artist has arrived in mainstream country music. It’s even less exciting to hear their music (most of the time). Despite this, Travis Denning still remains an artist worth keeping an eye on.
“David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs” had its flaws, but it was also one of the more unique singles released to country radio in recent memory. Considering how that song fared though, it wasn’t surprising to hear news that Denning’s newest single catered more to the current country climate, at least based off initial discussion.
If the question is, “does ‘After A Few’ still showcase Denning as a unique artist?,” the answer is both yes and no. No, this isn’t instantly memorable like his aforementioned debut single was, but “After A Few” still has more to offer than it might appear to on the surface.
The production is noticeably darker and organic for a mainstream country single (at least compared to other singles out now), with a surprisingly decent descending riff bolstered by real drums and a pretty good melody. It gets a little overbearing once the chorus kicks in, but this surprisingly feels like something that could have released at the beginning of this decade.
The lyrics are the weakest element of the track next to the production (at points), but even they carry a rare sense of self-awareness you don’t see in mainstream country singles that often anymore. What I was reminded of most when hearing this song was Chris Young’s “Aw Naw.” The guy in this situation didn’t want to see an old flame at the bar, but he did. Now they’re both together again when they shouldn’t be, at least for one night.
To Denning’s credit, he makes sure to point out how both of them are to blame for this vicious cycle, and he sells the role well of someone who wants to get out of this relationship and just can’t. After the first verse, the song does lack more details to drive the story home (for example, why is it so bad that you’re hooking up again anyway?), and the story of late night hookups isn’t revolutionary in country music (especially as of late), but it does go at least a little bit of an extra mile.
Denning isn’t really a great vocalist on a technical level, but for one, he’s got charisma. Second, his raspier tone suits the darker production surprisingly well, especially when he sells the role well of someone who truly wants to move on.
“After A Few” shouldn’t really work as well as it does, but there’s a bit more going on with it than most will likely give it credit for. It’s not “David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs,” but in spite of its small production and lyrical problems now and then, “After A Few” is surprisingly solid.