Review – Rascal Flatts’ “Yours If You Want It”

rascal-flatts-yours-if-you-want-it

I’m going to be honest: I’m surprised Rascal Flatts is still relevant in mainstream country in 2017. I would have thought by now this trio, which has been formed since 1999, would be deemed too old by country radio to play. Usually when a country artist or in this case group approach their late 40s the clock starts ticking down on airplay time. Before their last single that looked to be the case, as both singles that came before it didn’t even reach the top 15. But the aforementioned last single “I Like The Sound of That” went #1 of course and served as a reminder that this group isn’t quite done yet. They’re now back with a lead single from a new album, “Yours If You Want It.” It’s a step up from “I Like The Sound of That” because this one doesn’t feature the laziest songwriting with an even more lazy name-dropping of Justin Timberlake. But on the other hand if you’ve heard one Rascal Flatts song, this new one sounds just like it. This group’s sound has pretty much stayed the same for the duration of their career: real light weight production with a token banjo and palpable pop influences to compliment the super clean vocals of the trio. This song also features their favorite trope: nice guy love song. It doesn’t really make me angry, it just really bores me. This song is so toothless that it would be silly to get worked up over it. This is just Walmart music: corporate, cliché and neatly boxed together to appeal for mass consumption. One good thing I can say is it’s really easy to review Rascal Flatts music as I can write the same thing every time because this trio never innovates or changes their sound. What’s disappointing is once upon a time they released some good songs (“Skin” and “Mayberry” come to mind), but now they’re content to release generic filler like “Yours If You Want It.”

Grade: 3/10

 

Recommend? – Nah

Written by Andrew Dorff and Jonathan Singleton

Review – David Nail’s “Night’s On Fire”

David Nail is an artist who hasn’t had the most consistent success with his singles. The man has three top-ten singles under his belt, with “Let It Rain” topping the charts in 2011, and “Whatever She’s Got” getting to number 1 on the Country Airplay in 2013. But in between each top ten is a single release that didn’t clip the top 20. You can listen to his albums and tell that David Nail has the desire to make good music and not rely completely on mainstream trends. With Nail gearing up for a new album release, he’s dropped his first single from the forthcoming record with “Night’s on Fire.”

You can sort of guess what this song consists of: it’s a trendy song about nighttime love. Nail is driving his lady around on a Friday night until she’s ready to pull over and steam up the windows. Writers Jonathan Singleton and Deric Ruttan do offer more descriptions of the night than what you’d find in a Florida Georgia Line song with lines like: “Sunset melts all the blue away, blackbird watching on the telephone wire” or “River of stars close enough to touch.” The other good thing you could say about the song is that there’s no mention of the cornfield or backwoods, per say. The only description of the location we have is “off the highway.” The production, however, relies a bit too much on the modern trends. Firstly, I find the “oh oh oh’s” throughout the song to be quite obnoxious. It gives the song a heavy pop feel and reminds me quite a bit of Hunter Hayes’ “21.” Toss in a second verse that adds in overproduced musical effects behind Nail’s vocals and “Night’s on Fire” becomes a full-fledged pop song.

“Night’s on Fire” just sounds too familiar and too unoriginal. There’s a bit more effort in the writing to describe the night more than what’s happening in the parked truck off the highway, but the song is very much another anthem about hooking up with someone in the truck on a summer Friday night. Nail’s vocals are good here, and he sings the song well enough to relay the passion and excitement back to listener. However, it’s just not enough to make an overdone story sound fresh. “Night’s on Fire” is just too common a song. Hopefully it’s only an attention gainer for his album.

Grade: 4/10

Review – Tyler Farr’s “A Guy Walks Into a Bar”

To say I haven’t been a fan of Tyler Farr’s music up to this point would be an understatement. One of the biggest reasons behind my disapproval of Farr so far has been for his hit song, “Redneck Crazy.” It’s a creepy song that is the most fit for a lunatic stalker since “Every Breath You Take” by The Police. The music video for “Redneck Crazy” makes the song even worse. Why are the Duck Dynasty guys in the video? Are they angry at his ex too? I digress because I don’t want to go down that fox hole again. He follows it up with another top five hit, “Whiskey in My Water.” It’s improvement over “Redneck Crazy,” but still decidedly bro country (almost anything is an improvement over a stalker song). Surprisingly Farr and his team decided to not release anymore singles from his debut album Redneck Crazy and decided to release a new single from an entirely new album. That single is “A Guy Walks Into a Bar.” Does Farr finally make a good song in my eyes?

The song plays on the age-old joke of “a guy walks into a bar…” and then it’s followed by a punchline. This is actually clever and is easy for listeners to remember. This old joke though is not meant to be a joke in this song. It’s about a guy who regularly falls for girls in bars and they stay in love for a while, but in the end a girl ends up always breaking his heart. And this is followed by these lines:

I’d laugh too if my heart would let me
Keeping it light will probably help to get me over you
I’m walking, talking, drinking proof
A cliché in a corner booth
Ain’t nothing new

A Farr song with depth and heart? Color me impressed. Credit to the songwriters, Melissa Peirce, Jonathan Singleton and Brad Tursi, for crafting creative lyrics that express emotion. In terms of the instrumentation it’s your standard adult contemporary/modern country sound that features some good guitar play. Solid, yet unspectacular. Farr doesn’t have the best vocals, but he utilizes his hazy, smoky voice well in this song. His voice reminds me of a cross between Brantley Gilbert and Eric Church, but I think Farr utilizes his “grit” better than those two in his songs. One shocking revelation I found out about Farr when doing research for this song is he’s a classically trained opera singer. I’m not kidding. From an interview with CMT last year:

“My mom got me into voice training in seventh grade,” he said. “I was always singing, so she knew I could sing. I made it to the Missouri All-State Choir, then National Choir, too.”

Farr sang tenor when he made it to the prestigious All-State Choir his senior year.

“You’d go perform a piece, and they’d judge you on diction and vocal tone,” he said. “And pronunciation because a lot of the songs I’d sing were in Italian.”

Yes, Farr can sing Italian songs. He also says he got into country music because his mother married the lead guitarist in George Jones’ band. Both these revelations surprised the hell out of me. If he can sing opera and is familiar with one of the all-time great country artists, then I expect a little more from Farr in the future. “A Guy Walks Into a Bar” is a step in the right direction though. It isn’t bro country and the song has meaning behind it. I haven’t always been kind to Farr, but as I said in my Florida Georgia Line review: If you do well, even if you have a bad track record, I will give credit where it’s due. I’m giving Farr credit for producing a solid country song that I would have no problem listening to if it came on the radio. If he keeps making songs like this one, I may eventually forget about “Redneck Crazy.” Maybe.

Grade: 7.5/10