Thomas Rhett and Maren Morris Craving You Single Review

Image result for thomas rhett craving you

For Thomas Rhett’s newest single he shows real growth and maturity. Rhett heard the criticisms about his music over the last few years and decided to release a true country song with meaning. Bye, bye are the days of shallow pop songs where he drools over how hot his wife is. This song took a great deal of time to dissect as the lyrics are complex and intelligent.

NOPE! What this song in reality is is a continuation of the rubbish that was on Rhett’s last album Tangled Up. This is a straight up pop song that includes Maren Morris singing mostly background (she doesn’t have any solo lines). The song starts off with some heavy computerized drums before the guitar comes in reminding me a little of “Seein’ Red”. The lyrics make sure to be super generic and cliche dropping words like girl and comparing love to a drug (how original). All the song is about is how much Tommy boy craves his girl when she’s not around. He can’t be away from the girl even going as far as to say that his body is shaking when she isn’t around. That kind of reminds me a bit of “Sleep Without You” for the level of whipped that the guy is admitting to being.

The only semi-good thing on the song is Maren Morris who wasn’t even given any lines of her own. She sounds great on the song from what you can hear and belts out one of the final words nicely. This is just the same old Thomas Rhett and there’s no reason to expect anything different. I have no doubt this will be a huge hit on country radio and I could see this even being pushed as a crossover song as well. But sadly, the only thing that this song has me craving is a puke bucket.

Grade: a generous D-

Rich O’Toole American Kid Album Review

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Over Rich O’Toole’s career he has amassed 14 top ten hits at Texas country radio and opened for the likes of Willie Nelson and Josh Abbott. O’Toole has recorded six albums to date including his brand new album American Kid. Rich O’Toole who is originally from Houston Texas wrote this entire album in Los Angeles California which you will hear referenced on the album.

The album opens up with the fun, uptempo title track “American Kid.” The song is a patriotic salute to the type of guy that O’Toole is. It’s pretty common that an album open up with a fun, loud song that tells the listener about yourself and this  song is certainly that. What we hear on “Sunset Blvd” and on the title track is something you will hear throughout the album and that is heavy electric guitar. This is the song that I referenced in the first paragraph as being about Los Angeles. It tells the story of a man and his girl trying to make it in the music business in LA. It breaks down the hardships that are faced including having to sleep in his car and having to pawn his favorite guitar in order to get some cash. As music fans we often only see the product which comes after years of struggling to get by going unnoticed in the big city, so it’s important to hear about what you don’t get to see.

“Casino Lights” has a great melody but, is one of the sadder songs on the album. The man in this track struggles with addiction to both gambling and at the end we find out drugs as well. Addictions have cost this man everything in his life including his love and his child. The song ends with him doped up on amphetamine’s with a hooker in his car. Another sad track on this album is “Heartbreak is a Currency.” Love has never gotten this man anything but pain. After another woman leaves him he asks the bank teller if she could exchange his pain for money which is much more valuable to him than love.

The album transitions to a more positive outlook in “The Hardest Part.” This is the classic country story of a man being a wild party guy who never see’s himself settling down. Then he meets a woman who makes him want to change to be a better man for her because she deserves the best. Before he met her he had no money, no job and no worries but, for her he is going to change. This song also has a great rhythm to the chorus. “God Save the King” is another song about the difficulties associated with being a professional musician. The story finds a man who was once compared to Elvis Presley now performing in a little bar. People assume who knew him when he was famous that he died because he fell out of the lime lite but, the reality is he didn’t like being famous. He decided one day to get away from Tennessee and leave that life behind.

“Springsteen Gold” is the type of song that we have been hearing a great deal of lately. This is almost like a critique of the music that is being played not only on country radio but all radio. The music no longer makes you feel anything and the man in song is having nostalgia for the 70’s and 80’s when he feels radio was at it’s best.

The album closes out with “Back to Back” and “Take it From Here.” “Take it From Here” is a gospel influenced soothing love song with a chorus in the background. “Back to Back” details a marriage that appears to be on the brink of divorce. The husband and wife sleep back to back and are fighting constantly. The husband wishes that they could be happy together again and says that he would do anything to fix their marriage. He can’t take the discourse any longer and wonders if he sets aside his pride and turns around if his wife would do the same.

Overall I found this to be a really good album. I would best describe it as alt country with clear rock influences. There is a great energy to this album, even on the more depressing tracks.

Album Grade: B 8/10

Best Songs: Back to Back, Casino Lights, Sunset Blvd

Re-Charting The Chart

Every week we will take a look at the top 30 Mediabase Country Chart. We will re-rank the songs on the chart based on the quality and overall enjoyment of each song. Next to each song I will provide the ranking that we would give it and the actual ranking on the Mediabase chart in parenthesis (From America’s Music Charts). Songs that are in the color red are songs that are either recurrent or in danger of going recurrent soon, while blue is for songs that I predict will go to number 1 at some point. At the end of each ranking there will be some thoughts about the current chart as well as any news or updates that are deemed important. I hope everyone enjoys this weekly post and feel free to comment/agree/disagree with anything you see.

Zac Brown Band                                                                         My Old Man (23) A

Eric Church ft. Rhiannon Giddens                                       Kill A Word (7) A-

Craig Campbell                                                                          Outskirts of Heaven (26) B+

Brad Paisley                                                                                Today (16) B+

Raelynn                                                                                        Love Triangle (30) B+

Miranda Lambert                                                                      We Should Be Friends (26) B

Darius Rucker                                                                             If I Told You (17) B

Dan and Shay                                                                             How Not To (14) 

Josh Turner                                                                                 Hometown Girl (9) C+

Jon Pardi                                                                                      Dirt On My Boots (1) C+

Luke Bryan                                                                                  Fast (2) C+

Jason Aldean                                                                              Any Ol’ Barstool (4) C

Luke Combs                                                                               Hurricane (13) C

Kenny Chesney                                                                         Bar At The End of…(12) C

Trent Harmon                                                                           There’s a Girl (18) C

Lauren Alaina                                                                            Road Less Traveled (3) C

Justin Moore                                                                              Somebody Else Will (27) C-

Blake Shelton                                                                            Every Time I Hear That Song (29) C-

Rascal Flatts                                                                              Yours If You Want It (19) C-

Brett Young                                                                               In Case You Didn’t Know (15) C-

Cole Swindell                                                                            Flatliner (28) D

Dylan Scott                                                                                My Girl (22) D

Keith Urban                                                                              The Fighter (21) F

Kelsea Ballerini                                                                       Yeah Boy (6) F

Dierks Bentley                                                                         Black (11) F

Michael Ray                                                                              Think a Little Less (5) F

Lady Antebellum                                                                    You Look Good (20) F

Brantley Gilbert                                                                      The Weekend (10) F

Florida Georgia Line                                                              Boy Band’s Are Lit (24) F

Sam Hunt                                                                                 Body Like a Backroad (8) F

New To The Top 30: “Every Time I Hear That Song.” Like everything else Blake Shelton releases this song just looks to play it safe. The production is incredibly boring and generic and nobody will remember this song a year from now. Completely and utterly pointless. 

“Love Triangle.” This is by far the best song that Raelynn has ever released to radio. This is the story of her parents divorce and the effect that it had on her growing up. It’s such a relateable song. Unfortunately, Raelynn’s debut album was not very good and was not country in the slightest but, this song in particular is very good.

Songs That Left The Top 30: “Make You Mine”

“Sober Saturday Night.” This should be the last song off I’m Comin’ Over. Chris is in the studio recording new music right now so we should expect a new single soon in time for the tour season.

Songs In Danger Of Going Recurrent: “Think a Little Less”

“Outskirts of Heaven”

“There’s a Girl”

“Kill a Word” is done.

“Dirt on my Boots”

“Today”

 

Chase Rice If I’m Bein’ honest Single Review

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After 2 consecutive failed singles on country radio Chase Rice has released If I’m Bein’ Honest. I don’t really want to go into detail about his last album Ignite the Night which was released in 2014 but lets just say it was mostly dreadful. There was however two songs that I found to be pretty good and very personal to Chase and they were “Carolina Can” and “Jack Daniels and Jesus.” I honestly believe that Chase actually does want to release more songs along those lines and perhaps less songs like “Whisper” and “Everybody We Know Does.” He even said as much when he basically wrote an apology letter for releasing the terrifyingly horrible “Whisper” which was intended to be a lead single.

What we get with “If I’m Bein’ honest” is actually a pretty decent song with a very simple production that doesn’t get in the way of the lyrics. This song although different in subject matter reminds me a lot of “Jack Daniels and Jesus” in the honesty and the scaled back production. When I first heard this song I immediately thought of the stupid Sam Hunt song “Drinkin’ Too Much” but after further listens I can appreciate this song. The idea is that since he screwed up a relationship that he was in, he is a wreck. He admits that since he f**ked things up he is completely lost and he doesn’t know where to go from here. He stays drunk and high all the time so that he can try and get over this girl but it doesn’t work. He even admits that he cares for this girl so much that he prays every night that she’s doing okay.

There’s actually a huge difference between this and Drinkin’ Too Much in the idea that this isn’t a crazy stalker song. Chase doesn’t write songs about this girl that destroy her life in the way that Sam Hunt openly admits to doing. This is just an honest take on a breakup that is destroying the guy. He may have screwed up the relationship however he isn’t doing any harm to the girl.

Chase Rice has shown glimpses of good songwriting and he certainly has the ability to write extremely personal and emotional songs. If Chase Rice is ever able to get another album out I hope that it contains more mature songs like this one. He’s better than Ignite the Night and we now have proof.

Grade: B+

Community Writing Piece

Hello everyone and welcome to Critically Countries first Community Writing Piece! This is a feature that I would like to do once a month on the blog. This is a chance for you the reader to send me a piece of writing that you would like to share so that the other readers can see what you have written and we can have an open discussion about the pieces of work. There were no rules essentially for this piece. In this first edition we received 2 submissions not including my own submission. Please feel free to comment with thoughts/opinions about the work that is displayed in this piece and a special thank you to the people who submitted something.

  • This poem was written by a commenter on the blog Country Opinion Blog. I believe his name is Robert but since I am not positive I don’t want to say for sure.

“I’m just a prisoner in my own mind-
Bars filled with memories; walls built by time.
No way to escape; my phone is a cell.
Alone with my demons; my own private hell.

I’m just a stranger in my own life.
Taking up space, and trying to kill time.
Alone as a king, ruling no one at all
The throne where I think; dreams struggle and fall

She stomps on my heart as I walk through my mind,
Now nobody’s here. Nobody comes by.
Not even me. I left long ago.
Just a broken old body hosting a broken down ghost.

I’m just a prisoner in my own mind.
Condemned to the persistent damn ticking of time.
Alone to see and feel the end drawing nearer.
“Is that good or bad ?” I ask the man in the mirror.”

 

  • This was written by Leon over at Country Music Minds

Ike & Matthew

 

“A story of two arch-rivals that came together through music”

 

 

“Hey Ike, saw your latest blog post on Florida Georgia Line. You know they’re always going to be more successful and better than you, right?” Matthew exclaimed as he sat next to Ike in their Philosophy class. “I know, I’m not denying their success. It doesn’t mean their music is good, nor does it mean I like it” Ike shot back.

“You know Ike, you spend so much of your time bashing artists you don’t even like, and when it comes to one of your shitty independent, old-timey acts you like, you shower them with endless praise. You really like being a hipster?”. Ike replied, “I’m not a hipster, I just have good taste in music. You’re going to call my taste shitty whenever you like mild, fake country bullshit that won’t be remembered in five years?”

Matthew replied, “Yeah, because I’LL remember it, and it’s certainly more fun and interesting than the sad depressing bullshit you like”. Ike scoffed and stated that “what’s the point in arguing once more Matt? We don’t agree with each other’s tastes. We never have and we never will”. “Ha, you’re damn right about one thing at least, Ike” Matthew fired as he turned away from Matt.

After class, the two went their seperate ways as they always had. Both could be often be found strolling through campus with a pair of headphones in, drowning away any of the bullshit that life brought onto them through music. It was a shame that they could never connect in that way, at least up until that point since…

Matthew lost all track of time before his next class that he raced to get to the next building. It wasn’t a huge deal if he was late, but still, he didn’t like it. As he rounded the corner, he literally bumped into Ike who was walking, staring down at his phone with his headphones in paying the same amount of attention as Matt was. When the two collided, Ike dropped his phone. Thankfully it fell on the grass, so nothing was hurt. Matt stated that he was sorry and proceeded to pick up Ike’s phone for him. What he found was something extremely peculiar.

“You were listening to Luke Bryan’s “We Rode In Trucks”?” Matt said surprisingly. Ike’s face grew red as he stammered, “give it back!” Matt kept the phone out of Ike’s reach, noticing that he had also recently played songs such as Jason Aldean’s “The Truth”, and Tim McGraw’s “How I’ll Always Be”. The next one would truly surprise him though, as it was Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise”, a song Ike had been noted to absolutely despise with every fiber of his being.

Ike, looking embarassed as ever snatched the phone out of Matt’s hand, fuming about how he didn’t really like these artists, he just needed to hear how shitty mainstream artists were in order to confirm how right he was about the artists he liked. Matt saw through the facade however, and proceeded to show Ike some of the artists HE had been listening too just moments ago, acts that included Cody Johnson, Aaron Watson, and even Cody Jinks’ “Chase That Song”. Both men couldn’t believe it – they each liked some of the artists that, in public, they claimed to despise.

Ike let down his guard and admitted, “some of these songs are songs I heard during my childhood, and even shaped my childhood. I can’t truthfully say I hate them. As for the more modern ones….what can I say? Sometimes I just need something different. I still think the independent side is better but there’s some stuff I like on the other side as well”. Matt admitted that he liked what guys such as Aaron and Johnson were doing – making modern traditional music he could get into. For Jinks, he stated that his stuff was still a little boring for him, but that “Chase That Song” – “was a jam”.

As the two men shared their secrets, they both admitted other things as well. “I’ll be honest, I’ve overhyped a lot of the independent acts I’ve covered. Some of them are even worse than some stuff I’ve heard on the radio” Ike said with a chuckle. Matt also admitted that his taste in music isn’t the smartest. “I mean, who’s actually got a body like a back road”? Matt also humorusoily proclaimed.

“You know, it’s good to talk this out” Ike said. “Normally we just try to tell each other how right we are and how wrong the other is, but discussing this…it’s good. Helps to give new perspectives.” Matt agreed.

The two men had been too stubborn by bickering over their differences that they never took the time to see what they had in common, probably because they didn’t think they had anything in common anyway. Both had been pissed off to such a large degree by the other that they would never publically let their guard down, instead choosing to operate machines and give their usual talk as always. In that moment though, they found something in common – a passion for music that’s shaped through life. Experiences, memories, moods, what have you. By God, the two men discovered they’re both humans. What a frightening discovery.

  • This is a satirical letter written by Alex (Just meant to be humurous not offensive)

Breakup Letter Written to a Mainstream Country Fan

Hey girl. Hopefully you have time to read this, you can read right? Anyway I think it’s best that I just come right out and say it, it’s over. I’ll never forget the good times we had kickin’ it in the sticks listening to some classic Brantley Gilbert. The time we both got barbed wire tattoos around our foreheads will forever be ingrained in my head…literally. But, the time has come for us to go our separate ways. You see, I have discovered that there is more to life than getting wasted at Luke Bryan concerts and spending all day on the couch watching The Jerry Springer Show… and being on the Jerry Springer show that one time. You see, it all changed when I listened to a Turnpike Troubadours song last month. It started a chain reaction that found me listening to all kinds of artists that don’t just sing songs about drinking and humping. One day last week I noticed that my head had grown larger and I had an awful headache. The doc actually told me that my brain was beginning to grow to the size of a real human. He said listening to Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line all those years actually was destroying my brain. I nearly ran out of brain cells before I started listening to real music. In just a month I have taught myself to read AND write! Anyway, I just wanted to say you will always hold a special place in my heart. I’ll make sure to point you out to my future children on whatever episodes of Cops you wind up on.

-Have a great life

PS you can keep all my Backstreet Boys Tshirts. I want it that way.

PPS Its not cool that you keep stealing money from my bank account to buy cold medicine. Don’t think I don’t know what your doing.

Sunday Morning Time Capsule

Image result for reba does he love you

Hello all! Welcome to the new feature Sunday Morning Time Capsule which will be a weekly feature here at Critically Country. In this feature I will do a throwback spotlight on a song, album or subject. I say spotlight instead of review because I won’t be giving grades for this feature just discussing the piece of work. Nostalgia can be a powerful thing so hopefully you all enjoy this piece as much as I do. I am happy to take requests for the Time Capsule if you have any so speak up if you do.

Last week the Sunday Morning Time Capsule took us back to 2010 for Dierks Bentley’s fantastic bluegrass song “Draw me a Map.” This week we go back a little further in time to 1993 for a duet with Reba and Linda Davis called “Does He Love You.” This song was the first single off of Reba’s Greatest Hits Volume 2 album and was a number 1 hit on billboard in addition to winning awards at the Grammy’s and CMA’s.

This is a classic country love triangle song. Reba plays the role of the other woman while Linda Davis plays the role of the wife. They both know what is going on yet neither of them can let the man go because they believe that he loves them greatly. He divides up his time between the two women often giving his days to his wife and his nights to the other woman. They both ask the rhetorical question of whether he loves the other woman as much as he loves them. Vocally the two women sound absolutely fantastic on this record which should come as no surprise.

Tim and Faith Release New Single Speak to a Girl

Image result for speak to a girl tim mcgraw

I think most of us were surprised when Tim McGraw made the decision to leave Big Machine after all of the success that he has had since joining them in  2012. With Big Machine Tim released 3 albums and was able to resurrect his career after court battles with his previous label Curb put it in jeopardy. The fact that at age 49 Tim McGraw continues to turn out not only hits but, some of the best music in the mainstream is nothing short of remarkable. Now while Tim’s career has been great over the last few years, Faith Hill’s has essentially gone nowhere. Hill’s last solo song on country radio was back in 2013 and her last solo number 1 hit was “Mississippi  Girl” a whopping 12 years ago. So in order to give Faith’s career a restart the husband and wife team both signed to Sony and announced a tour together as well as a duets album.

Personally, I would have much rather seen Tim continue his solo career since he has been releasing such quality material to country radio over the last few years. What we get on “Speak to a Girl” is essentially an adult contemporary pop song which is really the only music Faith Hill ever released anyway. The song appears to be a rebuttal of the way that the bro’s on country radio have portrayed interaction with women or at least that’s what I took from the song. It’s not necessarily a bad idea for a song as we have seen other artists do it and have success like Maddie and Tae for instance. But, this song is just a clunky weird song that I don’t see going all that far on country radio.

The opening line of the song is just absolutely ridiculous and I honestly am still not sure if I even know what it means. “She don’t give a damn ’bout your Benjamin Franklin’s, she wants Aretha.” What?! What the hell is aretha? I had to actually look up what that word was because I had no idea and I still am not even sure if that’s what the song is talking about. The definition that I found was beautiful and intelligent which is ironic because that lyric is stupid. I’m guessing it may have something to do with respect but again not sure. Do you honestly think that the casual mainstream fan is going to like that? The song goes on to talk about the way that a woman wants to be treated and how it is important to respect the women in your life including your mother which is a good message but far from original. The other big problem that I have with the song is the fact that there’s just not a whole lot there. The song only has a couple short verses and then the chorus so the song really has no time to breath.

There’s certainly much worse songs on the radio but this is not a great song. I don’t see how this jump starts whatever is left of Faith Hill’s career in a format that ignores women especially older women. The message isn’t bad but the delivery is horrible and the production is not country whatsoever.

Grade: C-

Writers: Joe Spargur, Dave Gibson, Shy Carter