My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: Neil Perry

Single Review – The Band Perry – ‘Done.’

DoneI’ve had Kathy Mattea on the brain lately, thanks in no small part to the life enriching experience I had seeing her live for the first time in late February. I came away stunned by her intellect and grace, but more importantly, her ability to pick songs that have an indelible magic. Her material is ageless and sounds just as good coming from a 53 year old as it did all those years ago when she was in her 20s and 30s.

The power of a great song is lost on much of mainstream country music today but judging from their 2010 eponymous album, I always thought The Band Perry had ‘it.’ I’ve loved all their singles (expect “Hip To my Heart”) to date, and they’ve truly been one of the bright spots on country radio in the past three years.

But there’s something way off about ‘Done,’ the second preview of their soon to be released (April 2) sophomore record Pioneer. What’s allowed them to stand out is an innate ability at mixing a sweet likability with a dark edge. Take that away, and they’re just another mainstream act vying for the attention of fans

At the simplest level, “Done” is so sloppily constructed, it’s beneath a band with this much talent. What struck me first was how juvenile the lyrics were, especially the chorus:

Mama always told me that I should play nice

She didn’t know you when she gave me that advice

I’m through, with you

You’re one page I’d like to burn

Bottle up the ashes, smash the urn

I’m through with you, la ti da

I don’t wanna be your just for fun

Don’t wanna be under your thumb

All I wanna be is…done

Seriously? They couldn’t even find at least one ear catching phrase to make their point? Lines like ‘I don’t wanna be your just for fun’ or ‘I’m through, with you’ are so childish, it’s almost embarrassing. The verses aren’t much better, oozing with the maturity level of a thirteen-year-old girl breaking up with her first love (“It’s gonna hit you hard Til You see stars” and “You play with dynamite don’t be surprised when I blow up in your face”). “Done” is like the reject song Taylor Swift left off her first album, the one that made “Picture To Burn” seem like such a good idea at the time.

I can forgive bad songwriting if I enjoy the track’s production (can’t “Done” just sound even a little country?), a case evident with TBP’s “You Lie,” which was actually clever. But the breakneck speed of “Done” makes the intent feel disingenuous, almost exacerbating the song’s lyrical problems. I give Kimberly credit for putting her sass into overdrive (and her vocal is strong as usual), but this feels like a comedy show, not a biting revenge anthem towards a dead-end boyfriend.

They need to do way better than this if they want to have a catalog of hits worthy of being sung thirty years from now.

Grade: C

Songwriters: Reid Perry, Neil Perry, John Davidson, Jacob Bryant

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New singles roundup: McGraw, Band Perry, Strait

Tim McGraw – ‘One Of Those Nights’     Listen

Two singles (not counting his grotesque 2011 holiday single “Christmas All Over The World”) into his first post-Curb career resurrection project, Tim McGraw is proving extremely frustrating. I firmly wrote him off as a has-been after he crammed that “Truck Yeah” garbage down our throats, and vowed never to give him my attention again. But with “One Of Those Nights,” he has returned to the artist he used to be, the hit maker I grew up listening to all those years ago.

It’s almost revelatory to hear a McGraw single these days with a straightforward unprocessed vocal, simple melody, and somewhat interesting story. I only wish the proceedings weren’t so bland, with McGraw coming off sounding pedestrian. He needs far stronger lyrical content coupled with something fresh and exciting in the arrangement if he wants to redeem himself for the poor song choices he’s made in the past six or so years. “One of Those Nights” puts him firmly on the right path, but he still has a long way to go before I can really get excited about his music again.

Grade: B –

The Band Perry – ‘Better Dig Two’    Listen 

The first taste of their highly anticipated Rick Rubin-helmed sophomore project, “Better Dig Two” is signature Band Perry – effortlessly idiosyncratic with an ear-catching melody and a strong attention-grabbing story. Kimberly gives her usually commanding lead vocal, and Neil’s opening banjo licks sound like homage to Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson as much as Home-era Dixie Chicks.

So why am I not liking this as much as I should? Well, something about it feels slightly off. The banging drums throw off the organic vibe of the track and seem like an excuse to make the proceedings loud in places to fit within the constraints of country radio. And the repeating of the opening line at the end feels like an afterthought. But that being said, “Better Dig Two” is still the best mainstream country single released this fall, proving once again that The Band Perry are scary good.

Grade: B+

George Strait – Give It All We Got     Listen

At 60 George Strait is releasing the best music of his career, proving what a little bit of reinvention can do to keep country radio within grasp without slickening up the production to fit in with the Jason Aldeans of the world. But more than that he’s accomplished the near impossible by delivering a love song about bedding a woman all the while keeping the track completely age appropriate. It’s a remarkable feat and he should be rewarded for adequately pulling it off.

“Give It All We Got” is the forward thinking tour de force “Run” was ten years ago and it shakes up his traditional leaning formula just enough (I love the echoing technique in the chorus) to keep him modern and relevant in all the right ways.

Grade: A+

Single Review – The Band Perry – ‘Postcards From Paris’

Since their debut in late 2009, The Band Perry have made their mark on country music – the brothers and a sister trio have racked up a couple number one hits (“If I Die Young” and “All Your Life”) a #2 (“You Lie”) and an all but forgotten top 20 (“Hip To My Heart”) while keeping the instrumentation decidedly country, a foreign concept to many of their contemporaries. Their latest single, the fifth from their self-titled debut, follows perfectly in that trend.

Written by the trio, Kara DioGuardi and Jeff Cohen, “Postcards From Paris” is the tune they couldn’t leave as an album cut even though their label wanted to move to their sophomore album. The release is a smart move, though, as “Postcards” is the perfect song to help bring them to the next level of superstardom and like others have stated, is one of the strongest lyrics on their record.

It also doesn’t hurt that producers Nathan Chapman and Paul Worley strike the ideal balance between old school country and new age country-rock with the blended production. The fiddle hasn’t sounded this good on any single thus far in 2012, and the punchy drums at the end of the chorus extenuate Kimberly’s anger perfectly, all while giving the song enough of a kick to keep the modern bent alive.

But it’s the offbeat lyrical content, quickly becoming The Band Perry’s signature quirk, which really helps sell the song. “Postcards” is, on the onset, a simple story of newly found love until you realize she’s with the wrong man:

I was with my boyfriend, a new boyfriend

He was as sweet as he could be

One look at you and I was through

My heart switched up on me

Like any great song, the emotions of being with the wrong person are fully flushed out – every decision she’s made is now coming into question, as though the universe got it backwards and her diamond ring was actually a fake. Now that she feels she’s supposed to be with someone else, the protagonist can’t help but let out her primal scream (accompanied by those well-placed drums) – And now I’m ruined, I’m ruined.

And it’s that twisty angst element that’s helped to form the trio’s sound and thusly helped them emerge as one of the most exciting acts having hits right now. So far each one of their hit singles has had a tinge of darkness to it. For them, it isn’t enough to sing a simple love song. Kimberly always has to be ruined when a better catch comes along or obsessed with the person who doesn’t notice her. With her gorgeous and tantalizing twang; she pulls off each character with the ease of a singer with twice as much life experience.

Like all their hits, “Postcards From Paris” proves that by singing material that digs far deeper than the average mailed-in fluff, The Band Perry are creating a rich listening experience that deserves further cultivation in the years to come. Their songs aren’t perfect yet, but with time, I have no doubt they’ll get there.

Grade: A