Album Review – Dierks Bentley’s ‘Black’

Dierks Bentley Black

What were you thinking with this album, Dierks? That’s all I could say as I listened to his new album Black. For the last few years traditional country fans have come to appreciate Dierks Bentley as one of the few artists in popular country to actually keep it country and deliver compelling music all at once. It’s probably a toss-up between Bentley and Tim McGraw for who has put out the most quality singles to radio recently (with the exception of “Somewhere On A Beach.” Bentley is also coming off his previous album Riser, which I thoroughly enjoyed and deservedly received a lot of critical acclaim and fan adulation. One of the things I’ve always praised about Bentley is his knack to balance quality and mainstream appeal. On this album it goes completely out the window in favor of…well I don’t know how to describe the overall approach to this album. I can already tell you up front that Black does not come close to matching Riser or even Home before it. After hearing the first half of this album, I almost stopped and refused to hear the rest. But then I gave it a chance and really didn’t feel like I got much more worth out of it either. This album is a different animal that sees Bentley stray far from his usual sound, something you really need to hear for yourself.

The album title track begins the album and right away you hear uncharacteristic drum play you’re not used to hearing in a Dierks Bentley song. It’s a pre-cursor of what you’re about to hear and it isn’t good. It’s a love song with a cheap hook and a pop, Adult Contemporary production that just doesn’t fit Dierks at all. Overall it’s just a really stiff song that I find hard to listen to. I can pretty much repeat everything I just said about “Black” for the next song “Pick Up” too. The production just doesn’t fit Dierks, but I’ll say the theme is somewhat better fleshed out. Even the theme, a song about calling a woman over and over hoping for the right answer, isn’t fully realized and relies too much on repeating the hook. The only redeeming song on the first half of Black is “I’ll Be The Moon,” where Dierks is joined by Maren Morris. It’s a cheating song where the woman is sneaking around with a guy in the night and wondering how they should handle things before eventually deciding that her significant other can be the sun and the guy she’s cheating with be the moon. Morris and Bentley sound great together and it’s one of the best on the album for sure. I could definitely see this as a future single, although the polarizing nature of the song (kind of saying cheating is alright) could prevent it too.

“What The Hell Did I Say” made me want to say, “What the hell did I just hear?” after listening to it. The production is too loud and overbearing and definitely not country. The song is about getting drunk and making mistakes. But really it’s just a lot of loud noise with clunky lyrics attempting to tell a story. Writers Ross Copperman, Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins deserve the blame for this song being so bad, along with Copperman again for producing it. Next up is the lead single of the album, “Somewhere On A Beach.” It’s complete garbage, as I already ran down through in a previous review. I have nothing else to add to it, except I hope I never have to hear it again. The most generic song of the album hands down goes to “Freedom.” I’m not sure what I loathe more about it: the cheap rip-off version of production off a Lumineers song or the fact the lyrics take inspiration from a summer Walmart commercial. It’s such a blatantly bad song with nothing redeeming about it and almost made me not want to hear the rest of the album. Bentley clearly lowered himself on this song and he should feel bad for it.

Bentley goes the slow-jam, R&B route on “Why Do I Feel.” So once again the production really stymies a song on this album. The song itself is not bad per se; it’s about Bentley wondering why he keeps questioning his great relationship he’s currently in. He has suspicions about her, but no proof. So he’s trying to drive these bad thoughts away. So the song is kind of okay, but the production keeps it from being good. “Roses And A Time Machine” is where we start to hear more of the “good side” to Dierks reappearing on this album. It’s a country rock song about a man wanting to build a time machine to turn back time and get the woman who walked out on him back. On every album from Dierks we usually get one song where we see his more humorous, silly side and this is that song on Black. It works better that I thought it would and sounds better each time I hear it. As long as you’re willing to forgive a little bit of a rock influence, this song is actually pretty good.

This is followed by “All The Way To Me,” a song where Bentley sings about all of the little good things that get to him in life. It’s supposed to be a more vulnerable song, as Bentley opens up about the things that make him feel something. It’s just an okay song that could have been something more. Americana/rock artist Elle King joins Bentley on “Different For Girls.” The song looks at a breakup from the perspective of a girl and how they handle them. It says that girls don’t react in the same way guys do and that they don’t resort to hookups and drinking excessively like guys do. The song also says guys can act all tough after a breakup and forget about the relationship, while a girl can’t. Well this is all well and good if we all still looked at society through the lens of social consciousness of the 1950s. I really wanted to like this song, but the way it stereotypes all girls and guys is just too ridiculous to overlook. It paints guys to look like drunken, uncaring pigs while girls are emotional train wrecks who never resort to drinking or hookups to cope with breakups. It’s a shame this is a single and everyone will praise it for it’s “thoughtful” look through the eyes of a girl in a breakup. This song is nothing but a mess.

“Mardi Gras” sees Bentley incorporating a jazzy, bluesy horns sound into the album. While guest Trombone Shorty’s horn play sounds great, it’s wasted on yet another dud song on this album. While the instrumentation on this song is vibrant and engaging, the song is the exact opposite. I’ll let you guess what the song is about. It shouldn’t be too hard to deduce. Dierks Bentley spends so much time using different analogies and comparisons for his woman on this album that by the time I reach “Light It Up,” I’m completely unfazed by it. It’s just another song and I’m left wondering how much left I have to endure. Never thought I would say this about a Dierks album. Black comes to a conclusion with “Can’t Be Replaced.” Finally we have the type of song I’ve come to expect from Dierks Bentley and falls much in the same vein as the songs on his previous album Riser. The song sees Dierks singing about the sentimental things in life that you can’t put a price on and can never be replaced. The song has a lot of heart and features the warm, modern country sound we’re used to hearing from Bentley. It’s also great to hear Bentley sort of reflect on how far he’s come in his life and how thankful he is for his wife and kids. “Can’t Be Replaced” also leaves me wondering why we had to endure an entire album mostly full of bad music before we finally get something great from Bentley.

Black is an underwhelming, disoriented mess. There’s no other way to put it. It has very little redemption and a lot of mediocre at best songs. Bentley clearly wanted to do something different and unfortunately for him it just doesn’t work for the most part. It appears he wanted to go for something darker and edgier, but you really can’t do this when the production is too loud most of the time and the lyrics are written by the same people who churn out the bad music we hear from mainstream country all the time. I can tell you one thing: producer Ross Copperman absolutely dropped the ball on this one. I can’t believe he produced Riser. You could have picked anyone else and I think they would have done a better job than Copperman. But then again I don’t think Dave Cobb could have saved some of these dreadful songs. I spend a lot of time comparing this album to Riser, even though I didn’t plan on it, but it’s for good reason. It just highlighted Dierks’ strengths so much more and to give you an idea of the quality gap between the two albums, I would probably take “Drunk on a Plane” over most of the songs on Black. My advice is to listen to “I’ll Be The Moon,” “Roses And A Time Machine,” “Can’t Be Replaced” and just skip the rest of this album. Black is without a doubt the worst album I’ve heard from Dierks Bentley.

Grade: 4/10

 

 

Initial Thoughts on the 2015 ACM Award Nominations

2015 ACM Awards

Due to Winter Storm Juno, the 2015 ACM Award nominations were pushed back from Tuesday this past week to yesterday morning (much to the chagrin of country music outlets looking for stuff to write about). There aren’t a lot of surprises for the 50th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards show. Miranda Lambert leads all artists in nominations with nine, which shocks nobody. Dierks Bentley follows with seven nominations and Florida Georgia Line after that with five nominations. Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan will once again host the show, which will air on Sunday, April 19 on CBS at 8 pm ET. Without further ado let’s take a look at the nominations.

Entertainer of the Year

  • Garth Brooks
  • Jason Aldean
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Luke Bryan
  • Florida Georgia Line

In a fair world Sturgill Simpson wins this awards hands down. None of these nominations really impressed me in 2014. Garth has bombed at radio, but his concert sales top everyone. Regardless I think everyone knows this is Luke Bryan’s to lose. It would be nice to see Garth pull off the upset, but I would be surprised.

Male Vocalist of the Year

  • Blake Shelton
  • Brad Paisley
  • Dierks Bentley
  • Eric Church
  • Jason Aldean
  • Luke Bryan

Due to a tie we get six nominations here. How the hell does Brad Paisley get nominated and not Tim McGraw? McGraw’s album was not only much better, but his singles performed better too. McGraw is also nominated for a Grammy. Even though it’s a joke Paisley is nominated, he has a snowball’s chance of hell in winning so it’s not worth getting too upset about. Bryan is the front-runner to win this too, but if they’re giving him Entertainer of the Year then maybe somebody else will probably win. If that’s the case I see Blake winning.

Female Vocalist of the Year

  • Brandy Clark
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Martina McBride
  • Miranda Lambert

I’m 99.9% sure Miranda is winning this one. Martina McBride is just there to fill the fifth spot. Personally I would choose Carrie Underwood to win this, but her case isn’t strong enough to overcome Miranda. Brandy Clark being nominated is a nice gesture. Musgraves will have a much better chance to win next year after releasing her second album this year.

Vocal Duo of the Year

  • Brothers Osborne
  • Dan + Shay
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Maddie & Tae
  • The Swon Brothers

AKA the Florida Georgia Line award. Maybe Maddie & Tae have a shot next year, but they have no chance of overthrowing the bros yet. Florida Georgia Line wins and I continue to listen to way more talented country duos.

Vocal Group of the Year

  • Lady Antebellum
  • Little Big Town
  • Rascal Flatts
  • The Band Perry
  • Zac Brown Band

Zac Brown Band has more talent than the other four combined, but they didn’t release an album last year so they have no chance of winning. The Band Perry put out an awesome Glen Campbell cover, but they’re just here to fill a spot. Rascal Flatts still make music? This will come down to Lady Antebellum and Little Big Town, but I think the latter is the favorite to win. Their album has received an unusually high amount of praise for its blatant pop rock music.

Album of the Year

  • Jason Aldean – Old Boots, New Dirt
  • Little Big Town – Pain Killer
  • Miranda Lambert – Platinum
  • Dierks Bentley – Riser
  • Eric Church – The Outsiders

Every single 2014 Country Perspective Album of the Year candidate is light-years better than these nominations. I mean sure Dierks Bentley’s Riser is good, but it’s not album of the year worthy. It also has no chance of winning. My gut tells me Eric Church should win this one, but I think Miranda and Aldean have a good shot to win too. I’ll need to think about my prediction for this award.

Single Record of the Year

  • “American Kids” – Kenny Chesney
  • “Automatic” – Miranda Lambert
  • “Dirt” – Florida Georgia Line
  • “Drunk on a Plane” – Dierks Bentley
  • “I Don’t Dance” – Lee Brice

This is another award for Miranda to lose. But you may surprised who I think should win and that is “Dirt.” It’s clearly the best song of this bunch and Florida Georgia Line actually put out a song of substance for once. So for once I think Florida Georgia Line should win for doing something good. I’ll wait and see on this.

Song of the Year

  • “American Kids” – Kenny Chesney
  • “Automatic” – Miranda Lambert
  • “Drink A Beer” – Luke Bryan
  • “Follow Your Arrow” – Kacey Musgraves
  • “Give Me Back My Hometown” – Eric Church
  • “I Hold On” – Dierks Bentley

Just like Male Vocalist of the Year we have six nominations for Song of the Year due to a tie. It’s not a very impressive field of songs though. Once again Dierks has a good nomination, but it’s not worthy of the award. I hate this Eric Church song. “Follow Your Arrow” is probably one of the weakest songs on her album, but it has a great message and has already won numerous awards. Luke and Miranda’s offerings are lukewarm to me and “American Kids” gets way too much credit. This one is a toss-up.

Video of the Year

  • “American Kids” – Kenny Chesney
  • “Cop Car” – Keith Urban
  • “Drunk on a Plane” – Dierks Bentley
  • “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” – Glen Campbell
  • “Somethin’ Bad” – Carrie Underwood & Miranda Lambert

I really don’t care about this award, but I hope Glen Campbell wins. He probably will as a thank you for his career. He’s certainly the most deserving of these five.

Vocal Event of the Year

  • “Lonely Tonight” – Blake Shelton & Ashley Monroe
  • “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” – Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
  • “Somethin’ Bad” – Miranda Lambert & Carrie Underwood
  • “This Is How We Roll” – Florida Georgia Line & Luke Bryan
  • “The South” – The Cadillac Three, Florida Georgia Line, Dierks Bentley & Mike Eli

If you’re saying “what the hell?” to the last nomination, you’re not alone. There’s only one thing to explain it: politics. I think the first four nominations all have a shot of winning. It’s really a tossup. If I had to choose between them, I would go with “Lonely Tonight” just because I would like to see Monroe get some damn recognition for once. We would also have to swallow Blake winning, but it would be worth it in my mind.

Songwriter of the Year

  • Ashley Gorley
  • Chris Tompkins
  • Josh Osborne
  • Luke Laird
  • Rodney Clawson

No Dallas Davidson! That’s what I was happy about with these nominations. These writers have pretty much written all of the hits you hear on radio in the last year and are only nominated on this basis. It’s a shame the truly great songwriters aren’t recognized here.

So what do you think of the nominations? Be sure to weigh in below! 

Album Review & Rant – Florida Georgia Line’s Anything Goes

(Warning: The following review/rant contains strong language and is intended for mature audiences, which I guess eliminates fans of Florida Georgia Line. Anyway you’ve been warned the language is graphic in this post.)

You thought you could fool everybody? You sneaky bastards thought if you put one decent song out it would keep the critics quiet. That only worked for a couple of weeks. Once I heard your other new singles, Florida Georgia Line I knew you were back to the same old shit. After listening to Anything Goes my thoughts are confirmed. There’s been a lot of bad music released this year, especially here in recent weeks. But the music wasn’t bad enough to make me angry. It was just boring, repetitive and forgettable. This Florida Georgia Line album is all of these things too, but the lyrics in some of these songs are so damn bad that it made me question why I even listen to country music. But then I look at my music library and reminded myself that Florida Georgia Line isn’t country music. It’s just straight up garbage in any genre. Prepare yourself for this review. It gets bumpy.

The Best Song on the Album

Normally it says best songs above, but there’s only good song on this entire album and it’s “Dirt.” This song is true saving grace from this album being a complete waste of time. And really after hearing “Dirt” so many times on the radio it doesn’t sound as good as I originally thought. If you missed my review of that single back in July, click here. I’m not going to waste any more words on it because it’s truly the huge anomaly of this album and really Florida Georgia Line’s career. I wouldn’t be surprised if they never made a good song again.

The Worst Songs on the Album

The rest of the album is basically a pile of crap, so let’s just take it from the top. “Anything Goes” immediately kicks off with auto-tuned hick-hop. My first thought is what did I get myself into? Did you miss the immature and stupid lyrics from these assholes? Well you’re in luck. Everything about this trashy, pop country song is bad. Hubbard’s vocals are flat as usual and the auto-tune is layered on thick. The lyrics are even worse in “Sun Daze.” One of the opening lyrics to this song: “Rock a little bit of hip hop and Haggard and Jagger.” Are you kidding me? The duo goes full asshat douchebag in this song from the production to the lyrics. And then of course the infamous line that has been discussed among serious country music critics for weeks: “Sit you up on the kitchen sink and stick a pink umbrella in your drink.” I think you know what the sexual innuendo is here. I had to stop after hearing this line. This is a bonafide candidate for worst country song of the year.

The next song is called “Good Good.” I’m not joking. What a creative title! It’s just another damn party, feel good song. Shania Twain is name-dropped, which I’m sure will please traditional country fans. You will lose a few IQ points after listening to this ridiculous song. It’s as smart as the “creative” title. “Smile” is about….all who am I kidding. It’s the same old shit from Florida Georgia Line on this song. They’re drinking and trying to screw some girl. That is all they do. If actual songwriters got a hold of this song it could’ve been a sentimental song. Instead it’s just another overproduced pile of shit. The writers of this song are Chris DeStefano, Ashley Gorley and the king of shit mountain himself Dallas Davidson. Surprisingly this is the only appearance by Davidson in the album.

Other than “Dirt” every single song literally has the same theme up to this point. “Sippin’ On Fire” is about drinking Fireball, but that’s name-dropped in every Florida Georgia Line song. At this point it’s just getting boring. I guess this song is supposed to be a slower song, but to me it’s just another bad song. In the first minute of “Smoke” every single bro country trope is mentioned. I guess to let you know right off the bat that this song also sucks. I just don’t see how anyone can like these songs. They all sound the same, with just rearranged lyrics. If you can stomach the bro country tropes this song isn’t the worst. But then again the bar hasn’t exactly been set high with this duo. The song is about remembering a past girlfriend and actually could’ve been a great song if they just took away all of the horrible, cliché lyrics. “Bumpin’ The Night” is a hooking up, drinking song where I can say pretty much the same thing about it as I just did with “Smoke.”

I can’t prepare you for the next song “Angel.” Part of the chorus for this song is one of the cheesiest pickup lines of all-time. You know the one I’m talking about. This is actually verbatim: “Did it hurt when you fell from the sky?” Hahahahaha! Holy shit! Once you stop laughing from the amount of cheesiness in the chorus the duo actually attempts to be serious in this song. You can’t be taken serious though after uttering such a cliché line. The bro country tropes are light. But the instrumentation is way overproduced. Another song if re-written that could’ve been good. I’m thankful they at least provided this moment of comic relief.

“Confession” actually isn’t a party song. Color me shocked! It’s about reflecting on your past. It tries to be sentimental, but it just doesn’t feel genuine to me. Then again after hearing “Angel” I don’t think I can ever take this duo seriously ever again. It was hard enough before that song. “Like You Ain’t Even Gone” proves Tyler Hubbard should never do spoken word. He isn’t talented enough. And yet here he is doing it on this song. You should only do spoken word if you’re talented and I have an album review coming up where the artist does the art form justice. I don’t even know what this song is about and I don’t care. I just never want to hear it again.

The album mercifully comes to an end with “Every Night,” which reminds of Maroon 5. That should tell you all you need to know about this song. There is one line I would like to point out though. Hubbard sings at one point that “the neighbors probably hate me.” No Tyler that would be everyone who has any kind of respect for decency and not committing crimes against humanity with such horrendous music. It just isn’t traditional country fans, but anyone who hates horrible music.

Overall Thoughts

An Avicii ad played on Spotify as I listened to this album and it sounded just as country as Florida Georgia Line’s songs on Anything Goes. I had to point this out because of how true it is and sad the current situation is in mainstream country music. Maybe some artists are actually striving to make better music, but some clearly want to hold onto bro country with a death grip. And I can’t blame them because it has made a lot of people rich. I have to think at some point though that even the mainstream crowd will get tired of this shit. Everyday I wake up and hope that America has finally given up on Florida Georgia Line and they give them the Nickelback treatment because Florida Georgia Line is truly the Nickelback of country music. Ironically Joey Moi, who produces Nickelback’s albums, also produces Florida Georgia Line’s albums. I told myself “Dirt” was going to prevent this album from receiving a zero, but after listening to it I’ve changed my mind. When you have 11 other songs that are so horrible it tends to cover up the one bright spot on this album. Florida Georgia Line’s Anything Goes deserves to be the first ever album on Country Perspective to receive a rating of zero.

Grade: 0/10

Album Review – Lee Brice’s I Don’t Dance

Lee Brice has always been hit and miss for me throughout his career. He’s had singles that were true country and well-written like, “I Drive Your Truck.” Then he’s released bro country garbage like, “Parking Lot Party.” His most popular single from this album, “I Don’t Dance,” is a pretty good pop country song. But then he followed it up with “Girls In Bikinis,” which I will discuss in length later in the review. Get the picture with Brice? You never know what to expect from him. So how does he fair on this album? Let’s just say he showcases both sides of himself pretty well. One more thing before I start dissecting this album. It’s 16 songs long. This is way too long for an album. Nobody makes an album of 16 quality songs, so you know from the start of this album you will have some filler songs. Why do mainstream country labels continue to make these long albums? I digress. Let’s look at I Don’t Dance. I’ve decided to go old school with this review, starting from the top of the album and working my way down it. You’ll know why.

The album kicks off with “I Don’t Dance.” For those who didn’t catch my review of that song, here’s a snippet: “This song has more good things going for it than bad. It has its flaws with the pop rock beats, but I enjoy listening to it. While it isn’t traditional, it makes up for it with good writing. “I Don’t Dance” is a song I would recommend to modern country fans and traditionalists who appreciate a well-written song.” If you want to read the full review, click here. It makes perfect sense for this album to lead off with its title track. What doesn’t make sense is the four absolutely terrible songs that follow it. Prepare yourselves. “No Better Than This” starts off immediately with a line about playing some Hank and Snoop Dogg. No! Never mix these two together. I like listening to both of their works, but neither should ever be mentioned together in a song. Snoop Dogg should never be mentioned in a country song. By the way this perfectly illustrates how far behind country music is by name-dropping Snoop Dogg of all people. There’s an annoying ringing sound in the background throughout the song too if you already weren’t disgusted by the lyrics. Brice also uses auto-tune in several spots in the songs. When he isn’t using auto-tune, his vocals actually sound pretty good. It’s your typical plain, party country song you’ve heard a million times already.

This is followed up by “Show You Off Tonight, ” a blatantly bro country song. The lyrics in the chorus are shallow and the instrumentation is overproduced. The gist of this song is Brice trying to get in a girl’s pants. Yeah I would recommend avoiding this song. “Always The One” isn’t a bad song. But it sounds pop in some spots and rock in other spots. Where is the country music? This is supposed to be country music. The theme of the song is about Brice’s love for his ex. For a pop song, it’s good. For a country song, it’s very mediocre. Brice follows this with “Good Man,” which opens with a token banjo. The reason I say token is because it’s the only country part of the song. Brice does spoken word, almost rap, to start off the song. Ugh. This song is just too overproduced. Way too many machines are involved. This is a pop song all the way through. It’s hard to follow this song because it’s just so noisy. Five songs in and I’m not feeling confident about this album.

Luckily, the run of bad songs stops temporarily with “Drinking Class.” Brice may not be one of the people in the working class (drinking class) he mentions in this song, but it’s a good anthem for those kind of people. It’s nice to see the working class/drinking class have a song about them. It’s pop country for sure, but it’s a good song because the lyrics are solid. It isn’t overproduced either. Brice’s vocals are able to shine through. If you like “I Don’t Dance,” you’ll probably like this one too. Brice goes back to his annoying side with “That Don’t Sound Like You.” It’s a song about a man running into ex and saying she isn’t the same person anymore after a relationship she had with another guy. Brice is whining because she isn’t the way she was for him. Some laundry list cliches are thrown into the song too. It’s a pretty meh song.

Now it’s time to address “Girls In Bikinis.” Not only is this by far the worst song on the entire album, it’s one of the worst country songs of 2014. I’m not even going to tell you what this song is about because it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. Auto tune is used, along with annoying background vocals and “woos.” I feel dumber after listening to this childish and stupid song. It’s right up there with Jerrod Niemann’s “Donkey” in terms of maturity and songwriting. Wisely, Brice and his team have yet to push this song as a single. Just take a look at Niemann’s standing right now and that should be all the information they need to make the decision of leaving this as a bad album cut. “Girls In Bikinis” is a bonafide candidate for Country Perspective’s Worst Country Song of 2014.

Brice does spoken word again in “Sirens.” It’s a song about a man picking up a hitchhiker and driving away from cops. This reminds me of a dulled down and more pop version of Brad Paisley’s “Mr. Policeman,” which was an actually funny, novelty country song. “Sirens” is just too dull and pop for my taste. Just over halfway on I Don’t Dance and there’s only been two songs that haven’t made me pissed off after listening to them. Inexplicably, Brice rights the ship out of nowhere on this album at this point. “Somebody’s Been Drinking” is a drunk love song about two people being in love only when alcohol is involved. It’s also the most country song on the album so far, but that’s not saying a lot. The lyrics and instrumentation are solid enough to make this a good song.

Brice is even better with “Hard To Figure Out (The Airport Song).” It starts off with the sound of a drum, but then gets more serious. The song is about a man in the airport who is complaining about airport security when he sees a woman behind him crying about the loss of her husband in a car wreck. He asks what he could do for her and she tells him he needs to be thankful for what he has, causing the man to rethink all he has in his life. It’s more pop rock than country, but it’s a heartfelt song with a good message. I have to say the instrumentation is a little overproduced though. Nevertheless, Brice showcases his best side on back-to-back songs. “My Carolina” is a song about being proud to be from Carolina. It feels a little laundry list at times in the lyrics, but the instrumentation is actually pretty good here. The song is above average and mostly country throughout it.

Brice follows this up with one of his two standout songs on the album, “Panama City.” Brice’s vocals are pretty good in this song. There’s just a piano for the instrumentation mostly, with a little electric guitar thrown in for good measure. I give two thumbs up for this. It’s a soft, love song about a couple spending a romantic night in Panama City. There are no bro country tropes and it’s actually pretty heartfelt thematic-wise. Not only does Brice show his full potential, but the writers show their full potential too. The writers of this song, who each have at least one bad song with their name on it, are Mark Irwin (Tyler Farr’s “Redneck Crazy”), Chris Tompkins (Jason Aldean’s “Burnin’ It Down”) and Josh Kear (Luke Bryan’s “Drunk on You”). It shows these go-to writers in Nashville are capable of producing songs with substance, just as easily as they are capable of producing outright bad songs.

“More My Style” and “Closer” are two boring pop country songs that are basically filler songs. They are neither horribly offensive nor worthy of praise. These songs are just sort of there. You won’t miss anything if you never listen to these songs. But as I said above Brice has two standout songs on the album and the second song is the final one on the album, “Whiskey Used To Burn.” The song is about a man reflecting on his younger days and past memories, back when the whiskey used to burn him when he drank it. It seems to be told from a heartbroken and drunken point of view. No pop, rock or rap is present. It’s decidedly country. Brice has pretty good vocals and it shows in this song. He also shows great emotion in his voice throughout the song. I wish Brice made more songs like this one. He can be a solid country artist when he wants to be one.

In a way, I Don’t Dance reminds me a lot of Eric Church’s album The Outsiders. It really doesn’t know what it wants to be. There’s great moments of country, mediocre moments of pop and then downright horrible songs that sound bad in any genre. Brice truly is Jekyll and Hyde on this album. It’s worth a listen just to hear the contrast between the first half and second half of the album. He starts off pretty bad and finishes with mostly good songs. Overall when weighing the good and bad against each other it equals out to an average album.

Grade: 5/10

Review – Jason Aldean’s “Burnin’ It Down”

This is the exact problem I was worried about when Sam Hunt unleashed “Leave The Night On.” I was hoping the song would be a bust, but it’s a surprisingly performing well. And when I saw how well it was doing I knew there would be imitators. Hunt’s single is not country in any way at all, yet it’s being eaten up by the mainstream country fans. If a relatively unknown artist can take a completely pop song and slap a country label on it, what could stop the well-known names from doing the exact same thing as Hunt. Well now we have our answer in the form of Jason Aldean’s new single “Burnin’ It Down.”

Just like “Leave The Night On,” this song has no country elements in it whatsoever. The amount of auto tune used in this song is absolutely ridiculous. I guess Aldean has been hanging around Jerrod Niemann lately. The beat of this song sounds like something Usher could use in one of his songs. “Burnin’ It Down” is intended to be a romantic and sexy song that is supposed to get a couple in the mood for sex. But when listening to it I get a completely different feeling. It has a creepy vibe that seems like it would be more suited as the soundtrack to a date rape than a romantic night. It’s like the prequel to Tyler Farr’s “Redneck Crazy.” Both songs make me feel uncomfortable.

Lyrically this song isn’t any better than it is instrumentation wise. It’s like a mashup of bro country and laundry list pop country. What does “Burnin’ It Down” name check? It mentions Jack Daniels, names an old country artist (Alabama in this case) and the word “girl” is said numerous times. No, Dallas Davidson did not write this song. The writers of this song are actually Rodney Clawson, Chris Tompkins and Florida Georgia Line. Just when Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley had earned some goodwill from yours truly, they had to go and write this horrific song. It’s a damn shame.

It’s been a while since Aldean had released a new single and I guess he wanted to remind everyone that he too can make awful “country” music still. I predict “Burnin’ It Down” is going to have a big run throughout the rest of the summer and into the fall. Oh joy. Many people will somehow overlook the creepiness of this song and actually consider it a legitimate love ballad. It does nothing but give me creepy visuals, especially these lines:

 

Laying right here naked in my bed
I’m just doing my thing
You love it when I sing
Say it makes you feel like an angel
We about to get a little tangled up right about now
So girl let’s keep burnin’ it down 

I don’t need to imagine Aldean being naked in a bed. I’m sure the ladies will love it, but no thanks from me. Expect there to be another 15 more songs along these lines by the end of the year. Cheesy, boring love songs seem to be one of the newest trends in mainstream country music. Or in this case a creepy, boring love song. But hey at least Aldean didn’t try to rap? Nevertheless, Aldean’s “Burnin’ It Down” is another reminder that mainstream country music can never take a step forward without taking two steps back.

Grade: 0/10