Where’s the emotional connection? That’s something that I find myself saying a lot when it comes to many of the mainstream country songs that claim to be emotional and heart wrenching. Sure, there’s occasionally a song that lives up to this promise. But many times these emotional songs are just ancillary towards making a hit upon closer examination, such as Cole Swindell’s “You Should Be Here” that Derek just reviewed. Swindell didn’t make it personal at all and therefore made no attempt at connecting emotionally with the listener. It may be hard to get personal in a song, but it’s why country music has produced many of the classic sad songs throughout music history.
Young, up-and-coming artist Mary Fletcher does this though with her newest single “I Called Him Dad.” This was a song that was really never meant to be heard by the world, as Fletcher wrote this song just to comfort herself after losing her dad to complications of alcohol addiction. One night she decided to just play it at a writer’s roundtable and it turned some heads. Many people said they too could relate to where she was coming from. The Texas-based artist then realized this personal song that was meant to help herself, could help many others too.
“I was angry with my father,” says Mary, who was very close to her Dad. “For many years, I knew there were issues, but as a kid who grew up around his addiction, I didn’t really understand the dynamics of it all until I got older,” Fletcher explains. “He wasn’t mean and held down a decent job, so his addiction wasn’t as obvious as some, but it was difficult on my family and ultimately cost him his life,” added the 23-year old. “I miss him so badly and understand what these people and their families are going through, so I wanted to do something to help.”
Working with Cody McCarver of Confederate Railroad, Fletcher set out to record this song and share it with the world. The song begins with a soft opening of a guitar and piano, as Fletcher begins to tell her story of her father’s addiction and how he struggled with it for years before succumbing to it. She’s angry, but you can tell she’s experiencing the wide range of emotions people go through when losing a close loved one. Fletcher goes into detail of how close she was to her father and how the addiction would control him, as he would drink himself to sleep. She knows his way of living was filled with mistakes, but she knew he loved her deeply and did everything he could for her. It’s clearly a song straight from the heart, which is where anyone’s best music can come from (as cliché as this sounds).
Stripping back the instrumentation for most of the song definitely pays off, as it allows you to really connect with the lyrics and story. When the instrumentation is noticeable it has some nice guitar licks and sort of gospel undertone that serves the theme well. Some might say Fletcher could show more emotion in her vocals, but I think the lyrics do a good enough job in this regard. Plus this song is not really an immediate reaction to her father’s dead, but rather a reflection on his life and how proud Mary was to call him dad. It’s more of a tribute than mourning that allows her deal with the wide arrange of emotions she went through after his passing.
“I Called Him Dad” is sad country music done right. It gets personal, emotional and tells a story that allows listeners to connect with it upon the very first listen. I imagine it wasn’t easy to record this for Fletcher, but I’m glad she did because I think many listeners can find solace in this type of song. For any up and coming country artist, they need to dig deep if they’re serious about being a country artist and not a country entertainer. If Mary Fletcher continues to record songs like “I Called Him Dad” she will be well on her way to being a great country artist.
Special Note: “I Called Him Dad” is available now on Amazon, iTunes and Google Play. Fifty cents out of every 99-cent download will go to the nonprofit scholarship fund, Spring to Life, which helps provide treatment to anyone living with the disease of addiction.