My Kind of Country

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

Daily Archives: August 29, 2014

Classic Rewind: Kelly Willis and Kevin Welch – ‘That’ll Be Me’

Single Review: Blake Shelton – ‘Neon Light’

Blake SheltonIn a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Blake Shelton said the following about his latest single “Neon Light”:

“The song, the melody, the chorus is so George Jones or George Strait. It really is. Of course, I’m always going to have the haters and critics out there that say it’s not. But then, kiss my ass! I know more about those records than a lot of people.”

Way to stay classy, Blake. I am no Blake Shelton hater, having liked quite a lot of his music, though admittedly not so much in recent years. And I’m no slouch when it comes to familiarity with the music of both Georges and all I can say is that I imagine that the Possum has probably put some wear and tear on the inside of his coffin after all the turning over he must have done at the comparison. I can’t imagine George Jones singing this song under any circumstances. I can imagine him speaking out against Blake’s remarks, had Shelton been imprudent enough to say something like this while Jones was still alive. The chorus does sound a little like some of George Strait’s poorer efforts, and now every time I hear the song I try to think of how his version would be different — and presumably much better.

I’m not sure that this song is salvagable, but I imagine that a Strait recording of this song would have a much different arrangement. Ditching the annoying hick-hop beat would be a good place to start. I took an instant dislike to it from the moment I heard the the first opening notes from the banjo. There was a time when the banjo was regarded as primarily a bluegrass instrument and was rarely used on mainstream country recordings. I used to think that was a shame, but has been so overdone in recent years — usually in an attempt to give a rootsy feel to otherwise non-country sounding songs like this one.

The sad part about this is that fans that grew up listening to country radio over the past decade — the ones too young to remember George Jones or the kind of music George Strait did back in the 80s — probably do think that this is rootsy, throwback record. But those of us old enough to know better are unlikely to be impressed. Lyrically the song doesn’t have a lot of substance, which is OK for a summertime release, but Scott Hendricks’ obnoxious production is a deal killer for me.

Grade: D