Throughout country music history there has always been a dynamic duo making country music. From Brooks & Dunn to the Civil Wars to Country Perspective’s 2014 Group of the Year First Aid Kit, you’ll certainly find no shortage of talented duos. Well there’s a new duo on the block in country music and their name is Striking Matches. The duo is made up of Sarah Zimmerman (guitar/mandolin/vocals) and Justin Davis (guitar/vocals). They are part of the newly revived I.R.S. Nashville label, which was brought back to life in 2013 by well-known Nashville music executive John Grady. To add even more intrigue to this duo, their upcoming debut album is going to be produced by famous producer T Bone Burnett, who has produced everything from Alison Krauss to Robert Plant to 2014 Country Perspective Album of the Year candidate The Secret Sisters’ album Put Your Needle Down. Today I look at the lead single from their debut album, “Missing You Tonight.”
The song starts off with a mid-tempo electric guitar and a drum beat. It reminds me a lot of late 70s rock music. The tempo and beat pretty much stay the same throughout the song. The bridge has some nice earthy guitar licks too. The instrumentation on this song is certainly interesting. As Striking Matches describes themselves on their site, they’re a combination of country, rock and blues. This song certainly supports this claim and it’s definitely different compared to other songs you hear from mainstream artists. Upon first listen I didn’t really know how to feel about it. After a few more listens the sound has grown on me more. I would like to hear some more country influences, but I also appreciate the bluesy rock feel they’re going for here.
As for the theme of the song, it’s about two lovers who can’t stand to be away from each other because they’re so in love with each other. The first lyrics sang in this song by Zimmerman are:
Don’t hang up/I just wanted to hear your voice/I know we said we would give it some time/I don’t want to start a fire and I don’t want to start a fight/I was just missing you tonight
Basically they’re afraid to be too aggressive in expressing their love to the other, but at the same time are also afraid they aren’t being aggressive enough in showing it. Think along the lines of Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now.” I was definitely more impressed with Zimmerman’s vocals in this song and that’s probably what is intended, as Davis is more suited as the second fiddle in this type of song. I thought Zimmerman’s ability to express that desperation in her vocals made up for the lack of storytelling in the lyrics.
Speaking of the lyrics I think they’re just okay and could have been much more. It takes a few listens to not only interpret the sound, but the lyrics in this song. It feels like the line “I was just missing you tonight” is repeated over and over. Needless to say it’s a tad repetitive and I was really waiting for the climax of this song to blow me away. Instead it was kind of whimper. I could say the same of the instrumentation. They simply didn’t reach the full potential of this song and I put a big part of the blame on T Bone Burnett. Sometimes his production choices enhance the songs and in other cases, like “Missing You Tonight,” it hurts the song.
Even though it’s not a great song, I still find it to be decent and I applaud Striking Matches for bringing something different to the table. I definitely think there’s some potential with this duo. Their debut album titled Nothing But The Silence is coming out on March 24 and we’ll definitely be reviewing it here. I want this duo to succeed because they seem quite likable and they’re obviously talented. “Missing You Tonight” is not their best effort and I can’t really recommend it. However I do recommend keeping an eye on this duo because as I said above they have potential.