Rainey Qualley comes from a family of entertainers. She is the daughter of actress Andie MacDowell (Groundhog Day, Four Weddings and a Funeral) and former model Paul Qualley. Rainey’s sister, Sarah Margaret Qualley, is a regular on HBO’s The Leftovers. As for Rainey herself, she’s starred in a few movies (Falcon Song, Mighty Fine), and now she’s earned herself a record deal with the newly launched Cingle Records. This is a brand new label out of Nashville, and Rainey is the label’s first signed artist. Qualley released her debut EP Turn Down the Lights this summer, with a new single called “Me and Johnny Cash.”
This country rocker is a nice spin on a break up. We get the picture that her man ended the relationship and left her. However, instead of crying, feeling sad and lonely about his leaving, Rainey has popped the cork on a bottle of wine, pushed play on a record from the Man in Black, and is letting her wild side come out to play.
Me and Johnny Cash and a bottle of wine
Burning up some old love letters of mine
Goodbye lies, goodbye blue
Life’s too short to keep missing you
No telling what’ll happen in this rowdy crowd
Probably get drunk and burn the house down.
I’m getting rid of you one match at a time
Me and Johnny Cash and a bottle of wine.
The production of the rocking guitars and heavy drum beats in chorus fit well behind the rowdy lyrics and Rainey’s lower, booming vocals. The inclusion of a banjo driving the beat on the verses sounds natural, making “Me and Johnny Cash” a more authentic country rocker. Rainey Qualley also does a good job selling the anger of a woman scorned while still sounding positive and proud of where she’s at in life. It’s somewhere between “Gunpowder and Lead” and “Picture to Burn.”
As you’d expect from a song with Johnny Cash in the title, Rainey does reference some of his more famous moments and songs. “Watch us going up in ashes rocking ‘Ring of Fire’ and ‘Jackson.’ You can’t ‘Walk the Line’ on Muscadine red 2009” she sings in the second verse, which is essentially the chorus reworked. And in the third verse she references the famous light-smashing incident that led to Cash being banned from the Opry for a short while, “I’ve learned a lot from Johnny lately. And if you were here now I’d flip you the bird and he’d kick your lights out.”
“Me and Johnny Cash” works well as a woman scorned song. This is still quite the clichéd song from women in country music, and the trope of using a famous singer and his song titles for lyric material is commonplace as well. My other complaint is that the song sounds a little overproduced. However, Rainey’s vocals are great, and her lower register helps her stand out a bit more. Overall, “Me and Johnny Cash” is a song that could help get Rainey Qualley in the spotlight, but it doesn’t offer anything new or fresh to country music.