Unbelievable (Ann Marie) – Josh Gracin
If someone wrote an indistinct, universal, radio-ready love song about you, would you be honored or offended? Gracin wrote this about his wife. I’m sure she won’t mind if it’s a big hit, but I wonder if she notices that it could just as well be about anyone else in the world. The only hint of particularity isn’t in the lyric – it’s in the title, hidden away in parentheses. Other than that, this is every other love song.
Don’t Think I Can’t Love You – Jake Owen
The stop-and-go rhythm of the chorus is distinctive, but neither that nor Owen’s considerable vocal chops can save the song from the lyrical deficiences evident from the outset: “I learned the hard way real early in life / That money sure don’t grow on a tree / And there’s a few things that a dollar can’t buy / The best things in life they come free.” My, that’s some cliché collection you have there.
You Should’ve Seen Her This Morning – Zona Jones
Since I’m all about the (new-)traditionalists, I have to begin by acknowledging that I like this song more than a lot of the stuff radio plays. I can’t bring myself to love it, though, because it sounds too much like compromise: a real country singer agreeing to play by Nashville’s rules. It reminds me of Tracy Byrd at his least interesting.
What If It All Goes Right – Melissa Lawson
As Squinty Dan points out, this sounds more like an excellent demo than a bona fide radio hit, but it’s just good enough to settle comfortably into the middle of the pack. Since it probably won’t sink or soar on its own merits, its success is ultimately left up to the promotional muscle of Warner Brothers. Let’s see what they can do.
Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven – Kenny Chesney
Say what you will about Kenny Chesney’s island obsession, but the man knows how to deliver a summer party song. The only thing country about “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven” is Chesney’s accent, but it’s just the sort of disposable fun that the dog days of summer require.
Fishin’ Forever – Jeff Griffith
This is a seriously fun summer song that stands virtually no chance of mainstream airplay because it also happens be country-country, not pop-country or country-soul or Caribbean-country or any of those other fashionable hybrids. From the charging fiddle and steel work to the hard twang of Griffith’s voice, this is a straight-up, boot-stompin’ good time. A country summer song. What a concept!