When I’m feeling particularly concise (or just lazy), I’ll compile a few abbreviated reviews into one post that I call A Six Pack to Go. These are intended as off-the-cuff comments, not impeccably reasoned reviews, so please take them in the spirit of an exchange of opinion between friends. As always, you’re welcome to talk back in the Comments section.
Just a Dream – Carrie Underwood
I wish I could debate the lyrical intricacies of the song with you, but I just couldn’t get past the R&B beat, general overproduction, and nagging sense that there’s nothing country about this performance. I wasn’t interested enough to listen closely.
Hey, Mr. Oil Man – Ronnie McDowell
The world’s ready for a good song on this topic, but this isn’t it. The lyrics sound like they could have been written by anyone; they’re “universal” in the negative sense, lacking any real sense of personality. McDowell overcompensates by injecting too much personality into his vocals, giving a cartoonishly exaggerated performance that makes this sound like a campy Count-Chocula-Does-Country outtake.
Back That Thing Up – Justin Moore
A more likable version of “Bob That Head,” but not anything I would listen to on purpose. Still, give Moore credit for making a record that understands itself very well – it doesn’t try to be anything other than dumb fun. In short, Squinty Dan has it right.
Anything Goes – Randy Houser
This was my first exposure to Randy Houser, who surprised me with an impressive voice that splits the difference between Ronnie Dunn and Blake Shelton. The song doesn’t particularly distinguish itself, but it serves as a good-enough showcase for a very promising singer.
All I Ever Wanted – Chuck Wicks
This is what Rascal Flatts would sound like if the lead singer didn’t have such a hideous voice. It’s a rare case of the imitator beating the “original” (an absurd word to use in reference to Rascal Flatts). However, given so many other options in the wide world of music, why settle for anything this bland?
Sounds So Good – Ashton Shepherd
Similar to my earlier comments about Lady Antebellum, I think Ashton is good but don’t quite understand the level of hype surrounding her. Sure, that heartfelt songwriting and Alabama drawl would be a welcome reprieve from much of what’s on the radio these days, but there’s still something jarring to me about hearing a hard country voice enveloped in such a commercial style of production. This song sounds okay, but would sound so better in a pared-down acoustic version.