This post was written by a past guest contributor of Country Perspective.
If there’s one mainstream male country artist I’ve heard an awful lot of good things about, it’s Drake White. He and his band, The Big Fire, have been garnering attention from people for their fusion of country and southern rock. In fact, I’ve even seen people compare Drake’s sound to early Zac Brown Band (who Drake is coincidentally opening up for on Zac’s “Jekyll + Hyde” tour). That’s one hell of a compliment and something Drake should be honored to hear. I feel that his first single, “The Simple Life”, released on Dot Records way back in 2013 lived up to that comparison. It wasn’t stone cold country by any means, but it featured a great modern sound backed by fiddles. The only thing holding it back was the lyrics. They weren’t bad by any means, but the overall theme they connected to felt cliché. His second single, “It Feels Good” featured a different sound from his debut. I didn’t personally care for it, but it’s hard to argue that the song wasn’t at least different from the rest of what the mainstream offered at the time, so once again the sound gets a pass. However, this song was also lacking in the lyrical department, portraying a theme of living a simple, lazy life and kicking back. Notice a pattern so far? His third single for Dot Records, “Livin’ The Dream” is another song that falls into the category of having an agreeable sound matched with lackluster lyrics.
“Livin’ The Dream” starts off fine with some light guitar play and drums. However, other than the crescendo in the chorus, it doesn’t really move beyond this, making for an agreeable, albeit bland sound. As I noted before, one of the great things about Drake’s first two singles have been that they each featured a unique sound. I find the sound of “Livin’ The Dream” more pleasing than the weird sound of “It Feels Good”, however it’s only something that’s “ok” rather than “good.”
As you already might have guessed, the lyrics of “Livin’ The Dream” are nothing to write home about either. Much like his first two singles, this song revolves around a theme of being happy with the things you have and being content with a simple life. There’s nothing offensive about the lyrics here, they just don’t go anywhere. For the record, the song was written by Jaren Johnston, Tom Douglas, and Luke Laird. The first verse alludes to some trouble within a relationship between a man and a woman (“love don’t live around here much lately”), as well as some troubles making it financially. This is a great starting point for a story, at least it would have been. The rest of the song pretty much says the same thing over and over again. Life sucks and we don’t need a lot. It’s essentially Zac Brown Band’s “Homegrown” without the lively production. The song also panders a heck of a lot. Take a look at the last verse:
Look at us, we got a life out here, outlaws, in-laws, coolers of beer, spot on the wall to hang last year’s deer, now ain’t we living the dream. Red white and blue flag hanging, kids in the back just a tire swinging, fireworks booming and banging, now ain’t we living the dream
Mention of outlaws? Check. Alcohol? Check-a-mundo. Reference to hunting and America? You betcha. *Sigh*…… You really can’t even get mad at this stuff anymore. In addition to these checklist items there’s also a mention of an old truck with a dog in the back and a namedrop of a famous dead country legend (this one being Keith Whitley). What’s more is that this song is sung in a fast paced rhythm which makes Drake sound as if he’s just trying to rush through the song. It’s not rapping, but the fast paced rhythm makes it hard to really get into this.
Look, I think Drake White has a ton of talent. His band seems to be composed of actual musicians, and Drake himself has a pretty solid voice. But for the third time in a row Drake has delivered us a song that is merely just “there.” “Livin’ The Dream” is certainly his most mainstream sounding effort, meaning it looks poised to make Drake break out. Thankfully there’s no R&B sounds present here (hey, little victories guys….), but all that really does is save this song from being bad. I don’t hate “Livin’ The Dream”, but there’s plenty of better options out there.