The short version: High Valley continue doing what they do best on “Single Man.”
- Writers: Brad Rempel, Curtis Rempel Derick Southerland, Jordan Schmidt
- Rating: 7/10
The long version: You know, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” isn’t always the worst model to adopt.
Ever since High Valley crossed over into the United States, they’ve succeeded with a brand of high-octane pop and folk-inspired bluegrass music that you don’t see in mainstream country music.
And if there’s one album that completely bypasses my critical faculties like no other, it’s 2016’s Dear Life, an album where the duo embraced being young and wild with fantastic instrumentation and hooks to last for days. As such, when the duo announced they’d be building off of that for their next album, this critic certainly had no complaints.
So it’s no surprise that with their new single, “Single Man,” the reasons I enjoy this boil down to why I’ve loved other High Valley songs – a big, rolling groove bolstered by choppy acoustic strums, heavier percussion, tight harmonies and an amazing melody and hook to match the energy.
And the thing is, for as much as the duo embraces organic textures, this is the kind of “country” music I’d love to hear more of on the radio. The hand-clap percussion is matched against booming, huge atmospheric tones, but the banjo, mandolin and dobro also all get their chance to shine. There’s even a dobro solo here of all things. Basically, it’s got a pop sensibility matched by organic textures to craft something that feels and sounds huge.
Like with previous singles, the song moves so fast that you need to stop and catch your breath every now and then. Thankfully, Brad and Curtis Rempel handle it with ease as always, with a passionate delivery only made better by their stellar harmonies.
As for the lyrical content, High Valley won’t ever be known as the second coming of Kris Kristofferson, but that hardly matters with these two. Whereas they embraced being young on their last album, “Single Man” shows High Valley actually growing up a little and embracing the future. The song plays itself out almost exactly like Lee Brice’s “A Woman Like You.” There’s a nice fake-out with this song, with the narrator painting a picture of a single man down on his luck, only for them to reveal that it’s just them imagining the situation and instead, being thankful for their life with their significant others. The play on the hook of being a single man and not knowing a “single man” who wouldn’t want what he has is a little corny, but it’s one of the band’s better written songs.
Overall, I’m inclined to just say the band “did it again” with “Single Man,” as all of the trademarks that make the band great are on display here. More than that though, the band also decidedly takes a more mature tone to the writing here not seen before, even if it’s still a little clumsy overall (in other words, I wouldn’t call it a “great” song necessarily). But when it sounds this awesome, I’m certainly not complaining.
(Editor’s note – as always, I’m not thrilled about placing a music video here for the audio portion of the review, but alas, it seems to be the only clean-cut audio available on YouTube).