The more I hear from Kristian Bush, the more I understand why Jennifer Nettles was the lead singer of Sugarland.
Ever since Nettles and Bush parted ways, the other member of Sugarland has struggled to gain any sort of traction of country radio. “Trailer Hitch” peaked at a mediocre #21 on Billboard’s airplay chart, and “Light Me Up” performed so poorly that Billboard doesn’t even list it in Bush’s chart history (Wikipedia claims the track topped out at #60). “Sing Along” is billed as the leadoff single to Bush’s upcoming new album, but to be honest, singing along to this track is the last thing it inspires me to do.
The production attempts to capture the Metropolitan sound by dumping a bunch of unnecessary synthetic elements on top of the track, and all they do is get in the way of the real instruments and give the song a fuzzy, washed-out sound that is not terribly pleasant to listen to. The song seems to have a nice foundation that includes real drums and even a steel guitar (which you really have to listen for to actually catch), and the electric guitar on the bridge is a nice touch, but the whole mix overshoots the melancholy vibe that it was shooting for, and just leaves the listener with a bad taste in their mouth. Without the synthetic elements, the sound is probably okay, but with them, it’s just a mess.
Bush is a passable vocalist (I would describe his voice as an “off-brand Eric Church”), but he doesn’t bring a lot of energy to this track, and the effects that have been layered on top of his vocals do him absolutely no favors. The lyrics and themes here never rise above generic longing and wistfulness over a long-lost romance, and Bush isn’t able to break through the over-production and elevate the song to something memorable.
Overall, “Sing Along” is a wasted opportunity for Bush, and a cautionary tale for producers who feel the need to force a square song into a round, trendy hole. Throw away the muddy synthetic sounds and the unsettling vocal effects, and I think this would have a decent song with a chance to make a real impact on the charts. As it is, however, the song is a sub-par Metropolitan mess that leaves the listener frustrated at what could have been.
Rating: 4/10. Don’t bother with this one.