The Boom-or-Bust Jukebox – Week 5 (2021): (Dallas Moore, Luke Combs, etc.)

The Boom-or-Bust Jukebox is a weekly series where I cover new entries to the top 40 of Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, standalone oddities, and a throwback tune.

Hate to say it, but this is another week where I’m mainly left linking back to older song reviews I’ve written. If you’re a Dallas Moore fan, however, stick around. Anyway, onward!

Dallas Moore, “The Rain” (written by Dallas Moore)

There’s times where it’s just easier to introduce an artist with a Cody Jinks or Whitey Morgan comparison and leave it at that. And look, I mean that mostly as a compliment, especially when there’s no shortage of bearded country dudes reviving outlaw country (which I’m a sucker for) and that the ones ultimately worth mentioning have some further defining characteristics surrounding their work. With Dallas Moore, I’d argue he’s got a rough-edged, hangdog personality that plays well live … only that’s a moot point for right now, and I’m always left feeling a little cold by his recorded output. Not bad, mind you, but those early albums didn’t really have the production budget needed to match its bite, and his last few projects have just outright felt lacking in actual material. But judging from the lead title track single to his new album, The Rain, a reportedly much heftier affair, I’m digging a lot of what I hear. Now, granted, Moore is really overselling the vocal here, and it’s pretty familiar for the sound and style. And a song in this vein seeking salvation also isn’t exactly revolutionary, but I like the further point of starting over and leaning into a new life with someone else, come what may. I mean, if you’re going to go for it, you may as well acknowledge it’s going to likely be a crapshoot with the way you’ve been living, but hey, it could be fun, too. It never takes itself too seriously, and is pretty much the better for it. Plus, Moore finally has the crunch needed in the instrumental palette and presentation to make it work for what it is – I see and appreciate you over on the fiddle there, Jenee Fleenor. Not quite something I love, but it’s a rollicking good time.

Luke Combs, “The Great Divide” (feat. Billy Strings) (written by Luke Combs, Billy Strings, and Wyatt Durrette)

I actually reviewed this just yesterday for Country Universe. If you’re curious, click here, though I have to say I’m disappointed this song is all we got from this collaboration, at least so far.

We only had one new arrival to the top 40 this week, and it’s a song I’ve already covered for Country Universe. I don’t know, maybe it’s worth delving into chart discussions until this feature evens out with my past reviews. Stay tuned (maybe!)

No. 39 – Elvie Shane, “My Boy” (written by Elvie Shane, Nick Columbia, Russell Sutton, and Lee Starr)

Looking back on that review roundup, however, I can see it was the only single I took seriously enough to properly review (and as of last night, I’m glad I didn’t spend much time discussing Morgan Wallen – yuck). It’s a surprising dark horse pick for a lead single, but I like it. It’s sort of like a modern day “He Didn’t Have to Be” by Brad Paisley, just from the stepfather’s perspective. I’ll reserve judgment on Elvie Shane until I hear more, but it’s a solid start. At any rate, if you’re curious to read further on my thoughts, click here. I even like it enough to call it this week’s Boom.

For out throwback review this week, we’re taking a look at the No. 5 single from this day in 2011. We’ll restart the cycle next week by moving back a decade from where we started and talk about the top 5 singles through various decades as we progress. It’s stupid, I know, but it works!

Blake Shelton, “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking” (written by Earl Bud Lee and John Wiggins)

I’ll be honest, this was the last Blake Shelton single I remember really liking until “God’s Country” from a few years ago. And if there’s a reason why I’ve been so harsh to him over the years, it’s because he’s capable of delivering something great like this, enough to where I even prefer his version of this song over the Joe Nichols one. Blake Shelton has always been a lively presence behind the microphone, and while that charisma is usually meant to highlight his goofier tendencies, there’s always been something alluring about his performance here, especially off of the warmer, subdued acoustics and lingering pedal steel and echoes of bass and reverb. Granted, it’s a checklist song that basically lives and dies by continuously coming back around to that hook, and some of the questions asked are a bit too cutesy. But there’s something interesting about a song trying to delve into their significant other’s idiosyncrasies and making it sound genuinely endearing. I’m not sure it would have worked with many beyond Shelton (or Nichols), but it’s one of his more quietly underrated cuts out there.

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