Lately, Tim McGraw’s output has been pretty touch and go. McGraw, a veteran in the industry, found himself trying to compete with the new, young bucks, which resulted in him changing up his sound and trying to emulate the Bro Country sound with the atrocious single “Truck Yeah” and mediocre ones like “Southern Girl” and “Lookin’ For That Girl”. Now, it’s not all doom and gloom, as McGraw has managed to somewhat balance the bad out with a few good singles, like “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” and “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools”, but alas, he isn’t as steady and stable as he use to be, musically. His latest record, Damn Country Music, received high praise from critics, but I have to admit, I wasn’t totally impressed.
Allow me to explain, if you will, why I’m not really totally enthused with his recent output. I grew up in the 90s, listening to 90s country radio, and Tim was among one of my favorite artists. McGraw rose to fame in the 90s with beloved hits like “Don’t Take The Girl”, “It’s Your Love”, “Just To See You Smile”, “Where The Green Grass Grows”, and “Please Remember Me”. He followed up those 90s hits with “My Next Thirty Years”, “The Cowboy in Me”, “Red Rag Top”, and “Live Like You Were Dying” in the early 2000s. With an excellent track record like that, it’s just really hard to swallow his current offerings. I guess I just expect a lot more quality from a veteran like McGraw.
Anyway, back to Damn Country Music. The lead single from the record was “Top of the World”, a mediocre song at best that somehow managed to crack the Top 20, but peaked just shy of the Top 10 on the Country Airplay chart. If you’re interested in a more in-depth look at the song, check out my review here. Recently, McGraw announced that “Humble and Kind” would be the second single from Damn Country Music. I have to give credit where credit is due, “Humble and Kind” is a lot better than “Top of the World”, but alas, it still fell a bit flat for me.
Tim seems to be favoring the slower, quieter melodies lately, with “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s”, “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools”, and his latest offering, “Humble and Kind” all featuring simpler productions, and don’t get me wrong, they’ve been serving him well for the most part. When it was first announced that “Humble and Kind” would be included on McGraw’s new record, critics and fans alike raved about the song, calling it his best in ages. Unfortunately, I have to disagree.
It’s not a bad song mind you, in fact I love the sentiment of the song. My problem really just lies in the delivery of the single. It falls a bit flat for me, not enough emotion or emphasis. A song like this, one with a strong lyrical message, needs a powerful delivery to really bring it home, and unfortunately, this single didn’t get one. The main issue is Tim’s voice. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, although I doubt it, but Tim’s vocals sound off, unnatural, a bit strained. Maybe it’s auto-tune, or maybe it just wasn’t Tim’s best day as far as vocal delivery is concerned. Who knows? Again, I’m coming from the viewpoint of an early fan who is use to quality vocal performances like in “Please Remember Me”, “Still”, “The Cowboy in Me”, and “Like We Never Loved At All”. So to me, his vocal delivery on this song, and this record as a whole, seems a bit flat, not up to par. But again, I seem to be in the minority on this issue, with the majority loving this single.
“Humble and Kind” has yet to impact radio, but I believe it has a good chance of being successful. Tim seems to be on a roll lately, with a run of hits as his last four singles all made it into the Top 20, with two of them peaking inside the Top 10. With all the buzz around this particular single, I think it’s safe to say that it will also make it to the Top 10. It’s hard to be totally sure when it comes to the unpredictability that is radio, where mediocre to downright wretched songs become #1 hits and top-notch, beautiful ballads fall to the wayside. But if anyone can manage to pull a Top 10 with an okay song, Tim’s your guy. As for me, I think I’ll just wait and see what else Tim has to offer.
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