Tag Archives: Shane McAnally

Chris Young – “Neon”

Songwriters:  Shane McAnally, Joan Osborne, Trevor Rosen

At this point, it’s almost hard to believe that just a few short years ago, Chris Young was a cowboy-hatted Nashville Star alum struggling to get airplay with singles that were generally solid, but ‘too country’ for the market.  Fast forward to 2012, and “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song)” has long since gained him admittance into the instant add club, and he has become a reliable hitmaker who continues to make country radio a little more listenable one steel-laden hit single at a time.

Though his song material has at times failed him, the title track and current single from his album Neon finds that rich neotraditional country voice sounding better than ever.  Young tackles the song’s verses with appealing subtlety, and then pours himself full-on into the chorus with a quiet intensity, while backed with fiddle and steel that just sounds pure country delicious.

Complementing the beautiful production arrangement and Young’s committed vocal performance, songwriters Shane McAnally, Joan Osborne, and Trevor Rosen provide a solid set of lyrics to complete the trifecta.  The lyrics combine imagery of Wyoming skies and Santa Fe sunsets with a few clever turns of phrase here and there, all without compromising the natural ease of flow.  It all leads to a familiar everyman destination that has been the setting of many a classic country song – the honky-tonk.  All the while, little details in the chorus place the listener right in the midst of the scene, with “a little Johnny Lee” playing on the jukebox in the corner.

With a contemporary spin on a classic country theme, and a melody that wouldn’t sound out-of-place during the glory days of the nineties, “Neon” sounds worthy of neotrad stalwarts such as George Strait and Alan Jackson, with a dash of Clay Walker thrown in for good measure.  Thus, “Neon” turns out a most refreshing, invigorating slice of contemporary country music in all its rich, twangy glory, making it arguably Young’s finest single to date.  If country radio retains any amount of good taste, this single should follow its predecessors right up the charts.

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


Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Single Reviews


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Jake Owen – “Alone with You”

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)


Posted by on October 9, 2011 in Single Reviews


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