One of the breakout artists in popular country music in 2015 you undoubtedly heard was Chris Janson. After spending the last few years mostly popping up as a songwriter in Nashville, he released the summer-themed single “Buy Me A Boat.” Thanks to Bobby Bones playing it on his radio show, the song blew up and became a hit. It netted him a major label deal with Warner Brothers Nashville and the single went on to reach #2 at country radio. The sales were even better, as the RIAA certified it platinum in December 2015. Janson followed this up with “Power of Positive Drinkin’,” which had a disappointing run at radio, only peaking at #35 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. Putting the success and lack of success of these singles aside, I didn’t care for either song. I found “Buy Me A Boat” to be opportunistic and clichéd. I thought “Power of Positive Drinkin'” was worse and came off as hypocritical considering Janson has been sober for a while. So now he returns with his third single from his self-titled album from 2015, “Holdin’ Her.” So do I like this one? Well as the old saying goes, the third time’s the charm.
This song hooks me from the very beginning with its earthy, acoustic guitar play before giving away to some steel guitar. “Holdin’ Her” tells the story of how Janson grew up from his early days, fell in love and became the man he is now. Janson recalls in his younger days how he used to party and wake up in places with strangers he didn’t know and wondered how he even got there. He goes onto meet the woman he would one day call his wife in an underground pool hall and from that day on his life changed. Janson feels peace and happiness when he’s holding her in his arms and knows his life is so much better with her in it. So he goes on to propose to her, with tears in his eyes he says, and she says yes. They marry and have a daughter, which is the day Janson realized he’s a brand new man with a much better life than his old one. The lyrics, which were written by Janson and James Otto, are personal, touching, honest and I’m so glad it’s a single. This is the type of country music the world needs. Not to mention the pedal steel guitar is present throughout. It has everything you want in a country song.
“Holdin’ Her” is a fantastic song and shows off how great of a country artist Chris Janson can be. This is the type of music I hope to keep hearing from Janson for years to come. When I hear a song like this it still gives me hope that all of popular country music will follow suit and make music like this song. Whatever doubts you had about Janson after hearing his first two singles, this single should erase them. If Janson keeps releasing singles like “Holdin’ Her,” he will establish himself as one of the best country artists on a major label. We can sit here and wring our hands over whether or not country radio will give this a shot, but it’s not worth it. Just listen and be happy that songs like this are being released and promoted by a major label country artist. “Holdin’ Her” will go down as one of the best singles you’ll hear in 2016.