My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Single Review: Jeff Bates – ‘One Day Closer’

The deep-voiced Jeff Bates is best known for his sultry Conway Twitty-style love songs, and I always thought it was a shame he didn’t have more chart success than he did. Now he is turning his attention to inspirational music, with an album due next month on Black River Music Group, the independent label which released his last secular album back in 2008. The title track and lead single is a sincerely delivered spiritual-cum-philosophical song about religious questions. There is an attractive melody and production which is sympathetic with gentle piano and guitar supporting Jeff’s warm, sensitive vocal.

I like religious songs in general, but it’s particularly nice to have one that doesn’t beat you around the head and has some space for uncertainty, while ultimately having a positive emotional payoff. Jeff ponders,

Why do bad things happen to good people?

He doesn’t make any attempt to answer that well-worn question, but concentrates on his wait for enlightenment from God, concluding,

I’m one day closer to one day knowing all the answers I’ve been searching for
My time on earth is getting shorter and my list of questions keeps on growing
But I’m one day closer to one day knowing

This isn’t the kind of song where everything is wonderful (like the platitudes of the otherwise wonderful Lee Ann Womack’s ‘There Is A God’). Jeff doesn’t shy away from the fact that life is tough, and having survived a serious drug addiction among other vicissitudes in his own life, he certainly is no stranger to the troubles he talks about here:

Why is life down here such a struggle?
Trouble’s all I’ve ever known
And when I die will I go to heaven
And will it be like going home?
Will my lost loved ones be there waiting?
There’s no way to know right now

Simple but sweet, Jeff’s warm voice makes it feel comforting even though we don’t get handed any answers. This is one of the most soothing songs about the thought of death I have ever heard.

This song embodies the definition of inspirational, because from a starting point firmly grounded in reality, like the best country songs, it feels genuinely hopeful that the answers to these difficult questions will be both forthcoming and satisfactory. But there is no preaching to that end: the personal testimonial style with elements of doubt make this work. It is, perhaps, not the most original record around, but it is very well executed. It also really makes me want to hear the new album, which is a single’s essential function.

Grade: A

Listen here.

One response to “Single Review: Jeff Bates – ‘One Day Closer’

  1. Pingback: EP Review: Jeff Bates – ‘One Day Closer’ « My Kind Of Country

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