Review – Cam’s “Burning House”

Country newcomer Cam impressed us with her debut single “My Mistake.” The song was a nice blend of pop country with great lyrics, and Cam herself is a captivating vocalist. As a follow-up single, Cam is releasing “Burning House” off her EP. This song, thanks to some help from the one and only Bobby Bones, will get the iHeartRadio On The Verge treatment. It’s the same program that’s helped Sam Hunt become a country star. While some may question the integrity of the program, it has proven to be effective in getting new artists in the spotlight. And say what you want about Bobby Bones, the shock jock has just as many detractors as he has supporters, but for every other bad song he pushes out on his show, there’s a good one. And in the case of Cam’s “Burning House,” Bobby Bones and On The Verge have chosen a very good song to bring into the country radio spotlight.

“Burning House” features a beautifully haunting production. A simple acoustic guitar melody lays the ground for the song, and a piano and some violins chime in as the song progresses. You won’t hear percussion anywhere on this song. The lone acoustic melody on the introduction combined with the opening line of “I had a dream about a burning house” sets the mood perfectly for the sadness to come. The phrase “less is more” couldn’t be more relevant to “Burning House.” The simplicity of the three instruments allows the listener room to breathe and focus on the story.

Cam uses the metaphor of a house burning down to tell a story of a love going down in flames. The relationship is dead and it’s only a matter of time before the flames die and leaving nothing left for the two of them. Cam is at a loss of how to fix it and ultimately realizes that its best to hold on until the flames have died.

I’ve been sleepwalking, been wandering all night trying to take what’s lost and broke and make it right. I’ve been sleepwalking too close to the fire, but it’s the only place that I can hold you tight in this burning house.”

This is the type of story song that’s lost in mainstream country. Too much of radio is too focused on being the soundtrack of good time parties and late night rendezvouses that listening to the lyrics of song has become an afterthought. And what makes “Burning House” a great song may be its Achilles’ heel on radio. Two of the previous stripped-back songs that made waves on country radio, “What We Ain’t Got” and “She Don’t Love You,” stalled at in the teens on the country charts. With that said, for an artist who’s yet to have a top 30 hit, a peak in the teens could be considered a success.

It’ll be interesting to see what On The Verge does for Cam and “Burning House.” I’d love to see this song succeed and at least chart in the upper half of the top 30. Cam’s vocals carry the melancholy tone of the song to new heights. She’s a captivating singer, and that only helps a song like this capture listeners. Unfortunately, for a song like this in today’s radio culture, it’s a game of wait and see. Regardless of how “Burning House” fares, it’s an excellent country song that everyone should hear.

Grade: 10/10

39 thoughts on “Review – Cam’s “Burning House”

  1. Shelly Mullins June 29, 2015 / 11:05 am

    OMG! This is a new artist?? I can actually LIKE this?? Wow. Hope radio doesn’t squash her and that she doesn’t move into the Miranda wannabe column

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Raymond June 29, 2015 / 11:11 am

    This song is just so beautiful if it makes the Top 20 I will be pleased. I still think the mainstream women are just rolling out the goods. Cam, Jana, Maddie & Tae. Hey Josh I saw your retweet of Carrie Underwood um she is only getting MB this week was the push week and well Sony just aimed for MB usually. Fun fact Carrie Underwood has 21 #1 songs including MB BHC and the Billboard Hot 100. I figured Cam would get a 7/10 given the mediocre reviews.

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  3. NoahHibiscusEaton June 29, 2015 / 4:57 pm

    Completely agree.

    This is just damn solid. I won’t lie when I say the ache could have been even better accentuated by well-timed flourishes of pedal steel and perhaps faint dobro. It would have helped this unfold to the fullest, I think.

    But that’s nitpicking to an extent. Because the intimacy of the production ensures that your full attention is set on Cam herself, and her understated delivery sent chills down my spine. The imagery is poetic, yet still undoubtedly simple enough not to divert you from the heartache – induced dream. And there’s not a single insubstantial word in its composition.

    I’m giving this a solid 9/10. I’m only keeping this from a 10/10 because I remain convinced a little extra instrumentation would have given this a tad more teeth and aid in the illustration of the heartbreak. But this is as close to perfect as mainstream country has gotten in 2015 in addition to Jana Kramer ‘ s current single and Jon Pardi ‘ s stellar B- sides EP.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Derek Hudgin June 29, 2015 / 5:30 pm

      I juggled between a 9 and 10 and ultimately felt that giving it a 9 would be criticizing an already excellent song in terms of lyrics, vocals, and production for not having that one thing to make it that much better. Essentially, there wasn’t a reason not to give it a 10 in my eyes, which isn’t to say your critique is wrong. Thinking about it now, a pedal steel added would be perfect for a song like this. But as you said, this is as close to perfect as mainstream has gotten this year. Are we surprised that it’s two women who have released the two best singles to radio this year?

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      • Noah Eaton June 29, 2015 / 7:01 pm

        I acknowledge that I can have quite a stubborn streak as a reviewer. I’m not ashamed of it in truth, in that it’s just a reflection of how I choose to channel my passion for music, but really this and Kramer’s release are as close as any single has gotten to perfection.

        I guess part of me feels 10/10 allocations need to be made fairly selectively so they maintain that special afterglow. That’s just me, of course. But I gave several songs last year that rating, and there are many others before that. =)

        *

        In fairness, a handful of women in country music have released underwhelming lead singles from forthcoming albums this year. Before turning out a pretty good album as a whole, Kacey Musgraves’ lead single was a disappointment to my ears. Same with Ashley Monroe, and her most recent album was a near-classic.

        So I don’t entirely buy that whole gender disparity/quality line of reasoning. It’s more of a reflection of how the industry sadly only feels compelled to take a chance in marketing males, and then dilute them of substance to make them presentable to the masses. They don’t see that same incentive with almost all females, so when they do find an outlet to release their music at a larger scale, of course it’s generally going to sound better.

        And now, chances are due to Saladgate and the enormous coverage it has generated in its wake, that the tide may be slowly turning toward pressuring Music Row executives to effectively invest in the artistic development of more female artists to the mainstream. Unfortunately, if the end result is anything remotely like more Kelsea Ballerinis, I can’t endorse that. That wouldn’t be a victory: that would be a regression. That would only encourage the marketability of bra-country.

        Thus, I’m hoping “Burning House” holds its own beyond the initial On The Verge payola, and enjoys staying power and at least moderate sales. Because if this experiment succeeds, then more investment in these kind of efforts as opposed to, say, RaeLynns, would follow.

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      • Derek Hudgin June 29, 2015 / 8:14 pm

        That’s a good point; I can be guilty for overestimating the quality of female music due to the diluted quality of males in the mainstream. I like to think I’ve been able to better distinguish quality with female’s music.

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  4. Zack June 29, 2015 / 5:01 pm

    I really like this song, it’s beautiful in every way and it’s been a long time since I could say that about a mainstream single.

    I still don’t like Bobby Bones, and honestly his promotion of this feels like the same thing FGL did with “Dirt”. That is, promoting a song that will shut up “those meanie critics!” I don’t think this will completely change up mainstream country, like you said Derek, it’s a wait and see game, but honestly I feel that it will make a huge impact, just not enough to shake the system. I hope I’m wrong though, as like I said, I find this to be extremely good

    Liked by 1 person

    • Derek Hudgin June 29, 2015 / 5:36 pm

      I disagree with your assertion about Bones. I’m not a fan of him either, but he seems to genuinely support some of the best songs from time to time. (I say seems genuine because who knows, there may be some shades of gray behind it like with “Buy Me a Boat” or “Love Me Like You Mean It.”) But Bobby Bones also pushed for Eric Paslay’s “She Don’t Love You” earlier this year.

      I guess my point is, if there’s more to Bobby’s support than just genuine love for a quality song, I think it’s more along political/payola lines than a “shut up critics!” support. Like I said though, maybe this gets a deserving artist like Cam into the mainstream fold.

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  5. Katie September 15, 2015 / 11:00 pm

    this song is perfect, I love it. Like..love it.

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  6. Robert mitchell October 12, 2015 / 4:42 pm

    Can someone please explain the whipping sound in the song?

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  7. Mel October 22, 2015 / 12:53 pm

    First country song in a long time with a real singer. She is not covered up with loud guitars with “fuzz boxes” roaring and bad drummers. A real talent.

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  8. Teri November 23, 2015 / 5:30 pm

    Not a favorite of mine. Granted, it’s MUCH better than most “so-called” country songs out there. Here is my issue with the song. In short, it’s a song about a love lost, holding on to the burning embers, keeps her close to him. Ughhhh! Seriously?!??! Take some ownership for the part you played in breaking his heart. Instead of holding on to what you lost, How about working on a BETTER you that wont do what you did in the past?!?!?! Just too “Taylor Swift” for me…

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