Review – Brantley Gilbert Misses the Mark with “Stone Cold Sober”

Brantley Gilbert Stone Cold Sober

When it comes to Brantley Gilbert, I’ve found there are two sides to him. There’s the album cuts side and the singles side. I found this out firsthand when I review his last album Just As I Am, which proved to be an okay album. What kept the album from being terrible and a complete waste of time were the meaning album cuts throughout it where Gilbert played to his strengths and actually produced some meaningful music. But what kept the album from being close to good were the songs released as singles. “Bottoms Up” and “Small Town Throwdown” are two of the worst singles I’ve heard on country radio in the last few years. Gilbert has to be amongst the worst of mainstream country artists when it comes to releasing singles, so it ultimately drags his image and respect down, at least in my eyes. Gilbert is now back with a new single, “Stone Cold Sober,” which is from the deluxe edition of Just As I Am.

The song immediately begins with some hip-hop/electronic sounds, which right away is a red flag. It’s also a little jarring, considering Gilbert hasn’t relied on this sound before. Sure he went full bro country and is one of main people responsible for rap infiltrating mainstream country music, but electronic beats was something he hadn’t used in his music until now. So I guess Gilbert is fine with being a trend chaser, which doesn’t surprise me at all. “Stone Cold Sober” is a song about a man who let his drinking get the best of him and as a result his woman left him. Now he’s begging her to come back into his life and promises he’s a changed man now. Gilbert is definitely going for a more serious song here, but I’m just not buying it. First off the song shouldn’t have electronic influences and is too upbeat for a song with this theme. It should be darker and slower because after all the guy in the song is not only battling demons, but has lost love too. Sounds somber, no? So the mood of the song should reflect this.

In addition, Gilbert just doesn’t sell the emotion of this song enough. Even though he doesn’t have a great vocal range, Gilbert has demonstrated an ability to convey enough emotion in a song to connect with the listener. It’s missing here. He just sounds bored and oddly not serious enough. The lyrics are also nothing special and really do nothing to stand out (the song was written by Gilbert, Brett James and Dan Layus). It’s the typical themes you find in a Brantley Gilbert song. Outside of the electronic sounds, the instrumentation isn’t bad though and keeps a solid rock country sound.

After listening to “Stone Cold Sober,” the song I immediately compared it to was Luke Bryan’s “Drink A Beer.” It tries so hard to be a more serious offering and has the elements to pull it off, but it just misses the mark in too many areas. “Stone Cold Sober” could have been a good song if the mood and tempo were slowed down and if Gilbert conveyed enough emotion to elevate the lyrics. And of course the electronic beats are completely unnecessary. There are so many mainstream country songs brought down by bad production and this is yet another example. Gilbert takes a swing and misses with “Stone Cold Sober.”

Grade: 4.5/10

9 thoughts on “Review – Brantley Gilbert Misses the Mark with “Stone Cold Sober”

  1. Lisandro Berry-Gaviria September 16, 2015 / 11:51 am

    Huh, I thought the theme was about a man who drunk dials his ex and asks , then realizes the next morning that he actually meant what he said during the call.
    “I guess I said some things last night that usually in the morning light I regret…”

    Oh well, I still basically have the same opinion on the song as you. The lyrics are okay, the electronic elements at the beginning and end of the song are annoying, although at least they aren’t up-front throughout the song. The production is decent for the most part, hampered only by the electronic sounds; and I agree with you on the lack of charisma here, which is a disappointment because Gilbert really conveyed the emotion in “One Hell Of An Amen” well, in my opinion.

    Overall, definitely a big step down from “One Hell Of An Amen” in my book. I’d probably give it 5/10. Basic radio filler.

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    • Lisandro Berry-Gaviria September 16, 2015 / 11:52 am

      *asks her to come over

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  2. SRM September 16, 2015 / 12:53 pm

    For me, this song is in the same vein as “Break Up With Him”, “(This Ain’t No) Drunk Dial”, and “That Don’t Sound Like You” (Lee Brice) and continues the trend of songs about ex-boyfriends calling up their ex-girlfriends and assuming that these girls have nothing better to do with their time than hook back up with them with no apologies offered. It’s quite disgusting, at least to my ears.

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    • Nadia Lockheart September 16, 2015 / 1:34 pm

      Eh, as much as I see what you’re getting at, I think the aforementioned songs are thematically different as far as tense and stage of the relationship the characters inhabit.

      With “Break Up With Him”, as much as it is true that you can compare the first verses of that song with “Stone Cold Sober” in that it reveals a narrator reflecting on an embarrassing drunk dial that damaged a relationship, the context is nonetheless starkly different. In “Break Up With Him”, it is clear that the subject has moved on and is now romantically involved with another man…………………and so that song absolutely leaves a sour taste in my mouth in how emotionally manipulating it is and passes for an insufferable skeevy hook-up song. With “Stone Cold Sober”, there’s no indication in the song’s framing that the subject has outright given up on the narrator or is seeing someone else……………….so the framing is pivotal.to how sympathetic or insufferable a figure the narrator is.

      With “That Don’t Sound Like You”, it’s much the same story. We don’t learn until the bridge that the subject has given up on him and is now seeing someone else, but it’s about as emotionally manipulative as “Break Up With Him” in that he’s deliberately trying to set her on a guilt trip and switch up her heart…………….with the hope of taking her back for himself.

      “(This Ain’t No) Drunk Dial”, I’m inclined to agree, is the more accurate song to compare “Stone Cold Sober” to. And while I can see where you’re coming from in that both sets of lyrics read more like half-apologies than anything truly thoughtful or most in tune with the subject’s feelings, I have to say that I think in moments of desperation, there’s naturally going to be a sort of selfish self-preservation coupled with a genuine pang of remorse for the other person. It’s more what you choose to say and do in the event the person on the receiving end decides to open a door for you to make amends that is most critical, I think.

      Still, I get why this sort of theme can often induce many eye rolls, this kind of song included.

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  3. Nadia Lockheart September 16, 2015 / 12:55 pm

    Yeah, I’m pretty ambivalent about this one too.

    I get a “Withdrawals” vibe from the instrumentation; in that it is sounds most informed by late 90’s to 00’s Alternative/lighter Active Rock and, if not for faint hints of pedal steel and broaching a well-tread theme in contemporary country music, wouldn’t be country whatsoever.

    Unfortunately, being compared to “Withdrawals” isn’t flattering in this context, because that song bombed hard commercially. And just as Tyler Farr made a crucial mistake in releasing back-to-back heartbreak songs in this current climate from a commercial standpoint, Brantley Gilbert appeased poised to repeat it with this track. I hate it’s the way it is because I for one miss gut-punching songs on the airwaves, but that actually leads into my next point on this track.

    Brantley Gilbert just doesn’t have any range as a vocalist at all to give most songs gravitas.

    Gilbert’s reading of “One Hell Of An Amen” felt more emotionally invested, as weak as his range was there as well. Here, it struck me as mechanical. I’m not saying he has to be a Myles Kennedy or a Chris Daughtry to effectively sell this sort of desperation, but Gilbert’s interpretation as a vocalist just sounds too stationary and by the book, that’s all.

    *

    Lyrically, there’s no glaring red flags here, although I will say some personality types won’t find this song persuading in the slightest. Usually if you have to explain repeatedly that you’re stone cold sober with this frenetic and shaky a tone, someone is just going to draw a blank stare and conclude anything but that to be the case. I get drunk dials are real experiences for many and the regret that follows with the desperate urge to make amends directly after the fact, but the framing of what are otherwise passable and relatable lyrics is going off on a limb, that’s all.

    *

    In the end, this is passable, but I also don’t think I;d recommend this to anyone either.

    I’m thinking a Decent To Strong 5 for this. I won’t feel passionately either way with regards to it becoming his next chart-topper or outright flop, but I’m suspecting the latter is more likely here because this is a most unfavorable climate for heavier songs thematically in the meanwhile.

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  4. ellie September 16, 2015 / 8:27 pm

    i think this song is ok,but I think Just as I am is better song,

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    • Lisandro Berry-Gaviria September 16, 2015 / 8:53 pm

      Absolutely agree. “Just As I Am” has fantastic lyrics and a production miles better than “Stone Cold Sober,” and Gilbert’s vocals (by his standards) and charisma are excellent.

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