That whistle you hear off in the distance? That’s the Kelsea Ballerini hype train, and it’s been speeding across the land since Ballerini exploded onto the country music scene last year. Her debut album The First Time saw its first three singles all top the country charts, and with “Yeah Boy” selected as single No. 4, I don’t see this train slowing down anytime soon.
The production maintains a light, breezy feel throughout the entire song, and is surprisingly cohesive considering the eclectic choice of instruments. The banjo is especially impressive here—it gives the song an acoustic feel despite the synthetic instruments around here, and blends surprisingly well with the restrained drum machine that backs the track.
Lyrically, there’s nothing too deep here: A girl sees a boy she likes, and wants to spend some time with him. Ballerini delivers a solid vocal performance, and her smooth, lighthearted delivery is a perfect match for the vibe of the track. Unlike Justin Moore, she actually sounds like she’s enjoying herself on the song!
My biggest critique with “Yeah Boy” has nothing to do with the song itself—rather, it’s the fact that her label releases nothing but lightweight girl-wants-boy tracks as singles (the brilliantly-written “Peter Pan” being the lone exception). As good as this track is, it’s almost indistinguishable from prior singles “Dibs” and “Love Me Like You Mean It.” I get that these tracks play well with Ballerini’s target audience, but they’ve also earned her an undeserved reputation among country music traditionalists as a Disneyfied pop princess who doesn’t belong in the genre. While The First Time has plenty of examples that show that Ballerini has the chops as both a singer and songwriter to handle more-substantive material (the title track, “Stilettos,” “Secondhand Smoke,” etc.), only “Peter Pan” will ever get to see the light of day. Come on, Black River, step up your game!
Overall, this is a great song, and one that will keep the Ballerini hype train going at full speed. I just hope her label takes a few more chances with the single selections on her next album, and showcases the full range of Ballerini’s talent.
Rating: 8/10. I recommend picking up the entire album—had I started this blog in 2015, The First Time would have been my Album of the Year.