Song Review: Little Big Town – “The Daughters”

The Daughters

The short version: It would have been better had it operated on a narrative rather than a list-like style of writing, but the sentiment of “The Daughters” resonates nonetheless.

  • Writers: Karen Fairchild, Ashley Ray, Sean McConnell
  • Rating: 8/10

The long version: Little Big Town easily have some of the zaniest chart runs in country music history.

For every huge smash Little Big Town receives, they follow it up with singles that can barely crack the top 40 at radio. And in the current radio climate, the band’s singles that do manage to connect aren’t always the most radio friendly.

Perhaps we can exclude from “Pontoon” from this conversation, but singles like “Tornado,” “Better Man” and especially “Girl Crush” have managed to brand this band with a unique identity. In the case of “Girl Crush,” they’re not even strangers to facing backlash over a controversy that really never needed to happen.

Granted, they’ve failed to maintain that balance with other singles that are more forgettable than anything else, but at the very least, Little Big Town isn’t a band you expect to play things safe.

As such, it’s good to hear the band once again embrace their artistic identity with “The Daughters” as opposed to last year’s forgettable “Summer Fever.” Like with “Girl Crush,” there will be controversy surrounding this track, but as mentioned previously, the controversy will likely stem from nothing with substantial foundation.

The only disappointment about “The Daughters” is that it makes its point through a list-like style of writing rather than establishing a running narrative.  At its core, “The Daughters” confronts societal expectations of women and how past events have shaped a modern day where there’s still progress to be made. More than that though, “The Daughters” is also quick to point out how the ideal state of living and being tied to God is tied to masculine values. Women have had to, “know their place, be willing and able, watch their mouth and smile for the camera,” and, sadly, to an extent, still are expected to because of those preconceived notions.

And the band (well, Karen Fairchild, rather) is quick to address that we can’t blame men at large for this ordeal, because overall, it’s a product of history that we don’t think about as strongly as we possibly should. There’s perhaps an awkward line here and there at the beginning, but overall, the message resonates. Its best asset is that it frames itself as the narrator just wanting an honest discussion over the matter rather than angrily pointing blame at anyone.

The production mostly does what it needs to, and that’s to get out of the way. Other than some atmospheric production and warm acoustics bolstered by slight piano here and there, the song mainly anchors itself with an intimate vibe. Karen Fairchild’s voice is right at the front of the mix (perhaps even a little too much, honestly), helping to drive the real focus of the song – the lyrical content.

“The Daughters” is both a risk and a safe choice. It’s a bit more mawkish of an empowerment anthem than others in this vein, likely a reason critics have already taken hold of this. On the other hand, though, it’s a risk for country radio and the country establishment itself. Yet it’s also not as divisive as one would think, instead framing itself with grace and tact rather than unjustified rage. If nothing else, it’s a step in the right direction for a band that’s always excelled on intimate performances.

(Strong 7 to a light 8/10)

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