My Kind of Country

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

Single Review: Ronnie Dunn – ‘I Wish I Still Smoked Cigarettes’

Ronnie-DunnSince parting ways with Kix Brooks in 2010, Ronnie Dunn has struggled to remain commercially relevant in an era when veteran artists are under-appreciated. After one solid solo album, he also cut ties with his longtime label Arista Nashville and started his own label. To say that his first two self-released singles, “Country This” and “Kiss You There” were disappointments would an understatement on a massive scale. But just when I was about to write Dunn off, he has redeemed himself nicely with his latest effort “I Wish I Still Smoked Cigarettes”, a tune penned by Lori McKenna, Luke Laird, and Barry Dean.

Though the title suggests that Dunn is tempted to resume a long-conquered vice, he is actually waxing nostalgic for lost innocence and a time when life was less complicated. The lyrics evoke images of fast cars, carefree youth and dreams going up in smoke. Unlike Dunn’s previous two efforts, the production is tasteful; the electric guitar is the track’s dominant instrument, but it is not intrusive or overly loud, and it is accompanied by some gentle, understated pedal steel. It is a lyrical masterpiece, that sounds like something Brooks & Dunn might have done in their heyday. Unlike some of his contemporaries, Dunn’s voice is showing no signs of deterioration. From a creative standpoint, Dunn seems to have found his niche; whether country radio is willing to embrace an independent record with politically incorrect references to smoking from a 60-year-old artist remains to be seen. I suspect it will be an uphill climb, but at this stage of his career, Dunn no longer needs to prove himself commercially. I hope that his upcoming album will contain more music like this song and less of the “Country This” and “Kiss You There” type.

Great songs seem to be rarer than hens’ teeth these days, so when one comes along, it is the duty of fans to support it. I strongly encourage everyone to visit iTunes and download this very worthwhile recording.

Grade: A

5 responses to “Single Review: Ronnie Dunn – ‘I Wish I Still Smoked Cigarettes’

  1. Luckyoldsun January 3, 2014 at 1:55 am

    “….an era when veteran artists are under-appreciated. ”

    That may be true, but hey, you can count on one hand the number of radio hits put out by artists of Ronnie Dunn’s age in ANY era of country music. Dunn is older than Alan Jackson, older than Garth, older than Randy Travis, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, Wynonna Judd, Tanya Tucker… and he’s only a year younger than Strait.

    Dunn is a great singer. He should just try to put out quality records and not try to chase after radio play, which he’s not going to get anyway.

    • Occasional Hope January 3, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      I wish everyone would do that.

        • Luckyoldsun January 4, 2014 at 10:53 pm

          Hey, I don’t begrudge a singer who’s in his professional prime aiming his sound and subject matter to what’s commercial and what’s likely to be played on the radio. All the greats did that.

          But it can become embarrassing–and counterproductive–for an artist to keep chasing after radio hits when they reach a certain age and radio is done with them. Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart–to name just a few who come immediately to mind–all achieved artistic–and even some commercial–success in their “post-radio” careers by creating albums that were not geared at all to what radio was playing at the moment.

  2. Pingback: Ronnie Dunn Pushes Ahead on Second Solo Album | Country's Hit List

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