Review – Ronnie Dunn’s “Damn Drunk” (feat. Kix Brooks)

Ronnie Dunn Damn Drunk

In 2014 Cumulus Media announced the bold and ambitious-minded Nash Icon label. It would be a partnership with Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Records and would serve as a new home to veteran artists who had seemingly been forgotten by other labels and mainstream. This would be in conjunction with the new Nash Icon stations that would play older country music and play the new music from these older, traditionally leaning artists. High expectations were set and now two years later it hasn’t come close to meeting them. While Reba was able to get a single into the top 30 and released a pretty good album, that’s been the highlight of this whole project. Martina McBride released a mediocre new album. Hank Williams Jr. released an even worse album earlier this year. Then we have Ronnie Dunn, who has yet to release an album yet under the label. The lead single for it was released last year, “Ain’t No Trucks in Texas,” which only peaked at #42 on the airplay chart. Now Dunn is back with a new single, “Damn Drunk,” and a familiar face accompanying him.

The song opens with some synth-like beats and a light backing chorus. It’s not exactly the start I envision in a Ronnie Dunn song, but thankfully it gets better as the song goes. The song itself is a love song about a man professing the love he has towards his woman and proceeds to use several metaphors and phrases to make how clear he loves her. The song centers on one comparison in particular, the hook of the song “if you were a whiskey, girl, I’d be a damn drunk.” It gets across quite clearly he loves her and it’s an easy comparison for the listener to comprehend. It must be said however it is a little cheesy and a tad cliché. But what makes it and the entire song ultimately work is it has a lot of heart and Dunn’s brings a passionate vocal performance to the table here. Halfway through his old buddy Kix Brooks shows up to sing harmony and the listeners who have been wanting a Brooks & Dunn reunion sort of get their wish. It’s kind of weird that these two are singing together in a song, yet it’s not by Brooks & Dunn. In the end it’s just semantics of course.

Overall “Damn Drunk” is a solid single from Ronnie Dunn. The only things that keep me from liking this song more is the production leans a little too much at times towards modern sensibilities, the backing chorus is completely unnecessary and the lyrics aren’t exactly heavy. But thankfully Dunn and Brooks bring a great vocal performance and wring everything they can out of the lyrics. It’s certainly an improvement over a lot of what we hear at radio and would be welcome if it got a lot of airplay. I’m not so sure it can, but it’s picking a decent time to go for adds (I think September would have been best). After hearing the first two singles, let’s hope the album from Dunn set for release in October is just as good. In a world where Sam Hunt and Old Dominion are on country radio, hearing the voice of Ronnie Dunn is quite refreshing.

Grade: 7/10

Written by: Liz Hengber, Alex Kline & Ben Stennis

5 thoughts on “Review – Ronnie Dunn’s “Damn Drunk” (feat. Kix Brooks)

  1. Nadia Lockheart August 9, 2016 / 2:17 pm

    Eh, this isn’t doing anything for me out of all due respect.


    The high mark of this song is blatantly obvious: the vocals. Ronnie Dunn still has it, and it’s nice to hear Kix Brooks’ harmonies again as well.

    But like I’ve said often, sometimes even a solid vocal performance cannot rescue a song: mostly because the song wasn’t worth saving to begin with. And “Damn Drunk” is one of those songs to my ears.

    This sounds like a cross between an overly earnest Matt Nathanson or The Script-esque Adult Top 40 ballad and your typical recent “your love is a drug” fodder contaminating country radio. And as you can tell, I’m not crazy about either (though I can acknowledge The Script has cut a good song here and there like “For The First Time”). The production is way too limp and, though not quite as polished as Randy Houser’s “Fired Up”, largely suffers from the same overproduction trappings of that disappointing album with stiff percussion, a generic wall-of-sound template in place of guitars with real meat to them, and woefully out-of-place “Whoa oh oh ohs!” closing out the track as if the song didn’t have enough theatrical cheese.

    Then we get to the lyrics: which are about as banal as anything off of Randy Houser’s “Fired Up”. I mean: “If you were this guitar, I’d turn it to eleven. If you were an angel, I’d pray to go to heaven…” Really, Ronnie? That’s the best you can come up with? Did we not learn anything from the failure of “Song Number Seven” and that eleven/heaven does not make for a momentous rhyme? And again with the whole comparing of infatuation with someone to alcohol and/or drugs. You’re above this, Ronnie.

    And I know what some of you are thinking. You’re thinking: “This is a last ditch effort for Ronnie Dunn to get heard on the radio again, and the whole likening to infatuation like being inebriated is hot on country radio right now, so I’m willing to forgive his capitulation to this trend this once if it means we get to hear his voice on the FM dial once more!” I’m sorry, but this was and is never going to be a hit in the first place. It fails to stand out in any way and, with Ronnie at 63 years old, there is absolute no way an ageist corporate country radio environment is going to touch this. No matter what he cuts, it’s going to be dead on arrival because of how shamelessly pop culture panders to youth.


    In the end, is this a bad song? No, it’s not. But it is an instantly forgettable track where Ronnie Dunn aims way too low and without proving any ultimate point in result.

    I’m thinking a Light to Decent 5 out of 10 for this.


    • Josh Schott August 9, 2016 / 3:09 pm

      I totally see where you’re coming from and I’ve seen a lot of praise for this song like it’s some traditional savior of a song when it’s really not that country. Then again if you only listen to mainstream country, it makes sense for the praise. His previous single was better. As I said, the vocal performance really sells me. The lyrics leave something to desire and could easily see them wearing thin on me over time. My disdain for love is my drug songs is well known and this got close to that territory, but not quite in it. This is much more a “light” 7 than a strong 7 for sure.


      • Nadia Lockheart August 9, 2016 / 4:27 pm

        I completely get why radio would never green-light another “Cost of Livin'” from him. If we’re being realistic, Dunn thinks very much like a CEO and I get that factored into this decision in a Hail Mary attempt to get radio play again.

        I just think this isn’t going to succeed from a business standpoint anyway. I’m optimistic when this is all but certainly confirmed, he’ll go back to cutting superior material again. But I can forgive him for releasing such mediocre fodder like this for sure.


  2. OlaR August 9, 2016 / 4:40 pm

    The song itself is ok. The real highlight is the voice of Ronnie Dunn.
    The Randy Houser / Fired Up-like production ruins the good impression. 6/10.

    New Release: Mitch Rossell – Raised By The Radio – Ep – 8 tracks – Just Nice Entertainment – Released (07/22)
    2011 Mitch Rossell released “Prayin’ It Don’t Rain”. Not groundbreaking but with a nice story & a good sing-a-long chorus. The eight tracks on his first (?) Ep are not half as good. The guy is trying hard to sound like a Top 10 country act on a Nashville mayor label (“Mine Was A Backroad”). Forgettable middle-of-the-road country-pop (“Raised By The Radio” & “All About Me”) meets electro-country (“Why I Drink”). Unnecessary. 2/10.

    No-So-New Release: Terra Bella – Road To Forever – Ep – 6 tracks – Self Release/Terra Bella – Released (02/09)
    The male/female duo released a first Ep in 2014 (Terra Bella). “Hey Mama” is the current single & the midtempo song is decent. Too country for country radio. The other tracks are modern country-pop. The voices/harmony vocals are not a highlight. The duo needs a better producer (& better songs). 5/10.


  3. FeedThemHogs August 10, 2016 / 11:20 am

    I LOVED Ain’t No Trucks In Texas, but this one just doesn’t do it for me. I was hoping for Ronnie to blow us all away with this NASH Icon label record he’s supposedly working on. He blew me away with his vocal performance on Ain’t No Trucks, but like Nadia said, this song couldn’t even be saved by his golden throat. Still looking forward to the album if it ever gets released.


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