Jake Owen – “Alone with You”

09 Oct

Songwriters:  Catt Gravitt, J.T. Harding, Shane McAnally

In a career whose output has largely been dominated by antiseptic radio fodder, Jake Owen’s recent hit “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” found him finally being able to pander successfully, with the song becoming his first number-one hit.  Follow-up release “Alone with You” swaps out the good-time vibe of its predecessor for a much darker mood, as its lyrical narrator tries to avoid falling for a woman who desires only physical intimacy, having no intentions of remaining in a committed relationship.

As “Alone with You” begins, the melody is so monotonous and plodding that it’s almost grating.  But as he gets further along in the “Need You Now”-esque ballad, the tone takes on increased urgency.  Owen sings in an almost pleading manner as he delivers the chorus:  “Don’t put your lips up to my mouth and tell me it’s okay… Don’t slip your hand under my shirt and tell me it’s okay.”  Unfortunately, the song’s title hook – “I can’t be alone with you” – is so rote and unimaginative that it falls perfectly flat.

Then the second verse rolls around, and that same boring melody resurfaces once more, while the heavy production all but snuffs out the traces of vulnerability in Owen’s delivery.  With the overall package being weighed down by an excess of blandness, it’s unfortunate that the song’s strongest qualities are largely confined to its chorus, as I can’t recommend a song by virtue of a good chorus alone.

Ultimately, that’s all the song really is – a good chorus in want of a good song to call home.  While “Alone with You” is still a discernible step up from the insipid “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” it still never quite manages to rise above mediocrity.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)

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Posted by on October 9, 2011 in Single Reviews


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4 responses to “Jake Owen – “Alone with You”

  1. Josh

    October 15, 2011 at 5:02 AM


    Ben, I think you’re usually on target, but I have to -respectfully- disagree with you on this one. I think this is yet another beautifully, moodily written song from Shane McAnally (Last Call, Neon, Somewhere With You, What Country Is, You Don’t Know Jack), and Owen’s most nuanced delivery since Startin’ With Me. I’ll be interested to see where the critical consensus on this one ends up.

    • Ben Foster

      October 17, 2011 at 3:53 PM

      I can understand while other people like this one. I was trying to find positive things to say, as I was hoping to be nicer to Jake this time around, but I ultimately had to own up to the fact that I’m just not feeling it. Though I will also be curious to see what other reviewers might have to say about this one.

  2. Nashville Dan

    March 22, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    But the hook is irresistable and sticks in your head long after you’ve finished listening.
    The dynamic rhythm and lyrics change from verse to chorus clearly screams to the listener “LISTEN NOW, THIS IS THE SWEET SPOT”
    Nashville professors teach this technique all day long as “very desirable” and this trio of songwriters NAILED IT!
    Congrats to Jake for being to hear and see this hidden gem among tons of songs being pitched to him, and fighting for it to be on his album.
    I didn’t get it on the first listen, but I did feel irresistably drawn in to listen again and again till the virus grabbed me.
    and then I said, “It’s so simple, so obvious, Why didn’t I write that?”

  3. rowdyred

    March 26, 2012 at 7:37 PM

    I’m with Ben. For me this song is leaden from start to finish. I don’t like the clump-clump-clump of the verses, I don’t hear him doing anything special emotionally with the lyrics, and all those right-turns in the pacing sound gimmicky to me. (A better demonstration of that technique is found in Carrie Underwood’s new song, “Good Girl,” which knits several disparate “movements” of the song together very dynamically and effectively, imo.) The chorus is okay, I actually prefer the part that begins “You’ve got me out of my head” to the “Don’t tell me this, that, etc.” section musically, but lyrically it’s all pretty predictable, nothing that rises above the overall monotone of the sound.

    After four or five singles, the thing I’ve realized about Jake Owen is he has a very narrow vocal range. I too love “Startin’ With Me,” and think he hasn’t come close to matching it musically, lyrically or vocally in four years. Everything since then has, to me, showcased his severe limitations as a singer, and this is no exception. My least favorite thing in “Alone With You” is the last word: “drunk.” Apparently intended to be the distilled essence of his angst, it just plops there like it fell off the tailgate.

    The whole song seems to have been “designed” for dramatic impact, but I just don’t feel it.

    My score: 5


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