Single Review: Gwen Sebastian – ‘Met Him In a Hotel Room’
August 9, 2012
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Before competing on this season of NBC’s The Voice, Gwen Sebastian had already released four albums for the Lofton Creek label and two singles that failed to chart. Now she’s under Blake Shelton’s wing and on tour with him, and back with her first single release since the network TV exposure.
Her latest finds an acoustic guitar plucking the melody on the verses as the singer narrates the story. Like her Lofton Creek releases, the production here is kept to a folksy acoustic sound, with lonesome fiddle flourishes accentuating the melancholy of the song. Sebastian’s vocal is equal parts Tammy Wynette tear-soaked delivery and Taylor Swift pitch-jumping limitations.
The song’s plot easily trumps the singer’s performance. What begins as an apparent telling of a torrid love affair in a hotel room is actually revealed to be a story of a woman’s intended suicide. There’s a neat one-two punch in the transition from first verse to chorus when the listener is finally let in that she’s not meeting anyone there. No, she came to this “seedy part of town” to end her own life armed with “a bottle full of sleeping pills and a long, long list of sins”. The lack of a final conclusive act allows the plot to remain ambiguous, as it should be. Listeners are free to decide the narrator walked out of the hotel room with a renewed faith in God, and the more macabre can just as easily conclude she went to on to the afterlife to meet “Him (in a hotel room)” after reading a passage from the ubiquitous hotel Bible and then swallowing that bottle of pills.
Between Sebastian’s less-than-commercial pipes and the song’s heady subject matter, I’m not sure even being under Shelton’s superstar wing can lift this singer to commercial success with the mainstream. It’s better than most of what’s on radio today, and fits into my own narrow demographic of a good country song. I’ll be playing it if country radio won’t.