Most artists don’t take their “Best Shot” when introducing themselves to mainstream radio. Jimmie Allen does so both figuratively and literally.
Allen is a Delaware native who has been kicking around Nashville for over a decade, but he finally broke through in 2017, signing a record deal last summer and releasing his debut EP back in October. After scoring a Top Ten on Spotify’s “United States Viral 50” chart with “Blue Jean Baby,” Allen has now released “Best Shot” as his official debut single on country radio. While the song may not be the most novel song you’ll ever hear, it’s a sharply-executed track that does a good job showcasing Allen’s talents as both a singer and songwriter.
Production-wise, “Best Shot” does a nice job walking the tightrope between traditional and contemporary country, blending modern elements into its acoustic foundation to create an understated, R&B-flavored mix with some solid groove to it. The track opens with an acoustic guitar driving the melody and what sounds like a single maraca keeping time, but slowly expands to include an electric, a piano, and a simple drum machine, all of which are toned way down to create a relaxed, almost-sexy atmosphere that doesn’t get in the way of the writing. It’s very reminiscent of Thomas Rhett’s “Unforgettable,” but it trades some of Rhett’s tempo and energy for a bit more groove and sensuality, and makes good use of minor chords to underline the depth and seriousness of the narrator’s feelings. It’s a effective strategy that makes for an easy listen while also leaving a favorable impression on the listener.
Vocally, Allen reminds be a bit of Devin Dawson, but with a bit more presence and a much smoother delivery. While the song is actually a bit too low for Allen’s voice (his delivery gets a bit raspy at points during the verses, and he sounds much more comfortable and powerful on the higher-ranged chorus) and the slower tempo doesn’t really test his flow, he brings a ton of emotion and earnestness to the table, allowing him to own the narrator’s role and make the song feel incredibly personal. I’ve harped on a few singers recently about not being able to elevate blasé material, but Allen does a nice job taking a clichéd topic and making it feel fresh and interesting.
Of course, the material here is much better than blasé—in fact, it’s my favorite part of the song. On the surface, it’s basically a carbon copy of Russell Dickerson’s “Yours”: The singer reflects on how rough his life is, but declares that he is a better person since his partner came into his life, and that he will give their relationship his “best shot.” However, while Dickerson distinguished his song through its vivid imagery, Allen stands out by playing up his vulnerability. Lot of country singers express disbelief that they wind up with such incredible partners, but Allen goes a step further by laying out his flaws and insecurities for the world to see, and how his self-image has improved since the start of the relationship (when he says “you saw a spark…that no one else could find,” “no one else” likely includes himself). The hook implies that even though his doubt lingers and that he thinks his partner deserves more respect and affeciton that he can give, he’s been inspired to try and give them all that he can. It’s a sympathetic, relatable viewpoint, and when coupled with the sincerity of Allen’s delivery, it’s a recipe for a track that hits the listener square in the feels.
Overall, “Best Shot” does exactly what it needs to do: It introduces Jimmie Allen to the audience, demonstrates his ability as a vocalist and lyricist, and makes a credible case for why he belongs on the radio. For all the complaining I’ve done about artists that I want booted out of the genre, Allen is an artist that I’d like to stick around a while.
Rating: 7/10. Check this one out.