The Boom-or-Bust Jukebox is a weekly feature in which we review one single – either a standalone entity or one from an upcoming album that interests us – as well as anything new to Billboard’s Country Airplay top 40, and a throwback single (currently exploring No. 1 country singles of the ‘90s).
I took a break from previewing upcoming albums to make room for an out-of-nowhere welcome surprise for the first section of this feature. Anyway, onward!
Carter Faith, “Greener Pasture” (written by Tofer Brown, Carter Faith Jones, and Lauren Hungate)
Carter Faith is a name new to me, though apparently she’s been active within Nashville over the past few years and has drawn the support of artists like Carly Pearce and Mickey Guyton. In describing her sound, while I wouldn’t say the more atmospheric, reverb-heavy take on pop-country is a relatively unique one anymore, she’s got such a stridently clear tone to her voice and delivery as well as her presentation, that I did enjoy sifting through her discography, even if the EP she released last year felt somewhat patchy. Thankfully, “Greener Pasture” looks to be a good jumping-on point for her and her music, because this is excellent and easily her best track to date.
She’s mostly playing around with typically male-oriented tropes and showcasing the other side of them, namely the woman who gets left behind by the archetypal cowboy free to roam from town to town. And I like that she plays it all with a bit of self-aware maturity to understand that this relationship was likely doomed to end quickly, but still feels hurt and left behind in thinking maybe he could change for the better; there’s a lot of great subtlety to the delivery that Faith nails excellently here. Like with most people who have heard this, though, I’d be remiss not to mention how that chorus treads dangerously close to Martina McBride’s “I Love You,” even if it is of a far more somber variety. Still an excellent find overall, and you should check it out, if you haven’t yet. Boom.
And now, our newest entries to this week’s top 40:
No. 32 – Tyler Hubbard, “5 Foot 9” (written by Chase McGill, Jaren Johnston, and Tyler Hubbard)
Well, so much for Florida Georgia Line being done, because even without Brian Kelley (who never contributed much to the duo anyway), this may as well as be a lead single to a new album from them. And a decade past “Cruise” now, did we really need this? Don’t get me wrong – I like some of the production details that call back to “Simple,” namely in the gentle gallop of the groove in the chorus and the generally understated and surprising warmth of the tones overall in the (albeit very faint) pedal steel and acoustics. But all that does is shroud this song in an overly serious atmosphere, when in reality it’s about … well, country girls, whiskey, God, trucks, etc. Really, this is just another Mad Libs-inspired, checklist ode to the aforementioned tropes, with the big emphasis being on the man upstairs and how he made this perfect country girl just for Hubbard to play with and enjoy. I’ve always hated that angle in these types of songs, and while this isn’t as sleazy as other attempts, it’s still not good. Bust.
No. 40 – Chris Stapleton, “Joy of My Life” (written by John Fogerty)
Chris Stapleton and odd single choices – name a more iconic duo. Granted, he’s never needed country radio, but come on – this is a John Fogerty cover from an album released in 2020, for crying out loud. And it’s certainly fine and all. Stapleton is much better at conveying warmth and subtlety than he was years before, and for as simple as it is in its presentation, it’s that simplicity that makes it come across as lived-in and mature in its thankfulness expressed toward a partner who’s stuck with them through the highs and lows. It’s just an odd single choice for a medium that likely won’t cater well to this song’s slower pace and subtlety. But, again, none of that has really ever mattered with Stapleton anyway. And for what it is, this is pretty solid.
And now, this week’s throwback review:
Tanya Tucker, “Walking Shoes” (written by Paul Kennerley)
Another week of returns for this section, and given that I think “My Arms Stay Open All Night” is a quiet favorite of mine from Tanya Tucker, we now get to take a look at what would lead her first studio album for the decade proper, and this is … fine? It’s a fun and bouncy kiss-off track that’s fairly straightforward and where the harmonica is a nice touch, but when you consider this is Tucker we’re talking about, I’m just left feeling underwhelmed as a whole that this doesn’t have a greater punch or firepower to it. It’s certainly not tepid, but it does feel oddly distanced as a whole. Fine enough, but this won’t be my favorite Tucker song we discuss here.