When I first saw the title of this song, I thought “What’s with the unnecessary shortening of accompany?” It turned out to be a microcosm of my feelings about this song: Acceptable on the surface, but with just enough flaws underneath to leave my conflicted.
Ballard rose to prominence on the back of three consecutive No. 1 hits from his 2014 album Sunshine & Whiskey, and seemed poised to take the next step towards country music stardom. His follow-up album El Rio was not as well-received, however, with its first two singles only reaching #15 and #50 respectively. “You’ll Accomp’ny Me” is the third single from the album, and honestly, I’m not sure what to make of it.
The song’s strong point is definitely the production, which is centered around hard-hitting drums and electric guitars. The song starts light with some acoustic guitar and restrained finger-snap percussion, but kicks into overdrive on the choruses as the louder guitars jump in. The song builds momentum as it progresses, and does a nice job of establishing an raw, summery, outdoor-rock-concert vibe (which may seem odd in February, but Ballard’s team is likely hoping for an early/mid-summer peak), calling to mind the iconic rock bands of the 70s and 80s. All in all, I like the sound choices here.
Where I’m less enthralled with this song is the lyrics, which describe the narrator’s brazen declaration to the object of their affection that they will join the narrator on their life’s travels. Despite the singer saying that they’ll do their best to make this decision palatable to their partner, the whole thing comes off as controlling rather than romantic. It doesn’t matter if you’ve “made my mind up that it’s meant to be,” the other person still gets a say in this decision. (One could imagine Lorrie Morgan’s “What Part Of No” as a fitting answer song if said person isn’t feeling it like the singer is.)
While other singers have made declarations like this to prospective lovers in the past (Cole Swindell’s “Middle Of A Memory” comes to mind), Ballard comes across as a bit more pushy and hard-headed about the idea. Part of this is by design: The slicked-back hair and leather jackets in Ballard’s promotional material suggest that he’s going for an old-school, bad boy, “Rebel Without A Cause” image, and this is exactly the kind of song a character like that would sing. Unfortunately, this is 2017, not 1955, and when Ballard tries to come across as edgy and stubborn yet earnest and heartfelt, he just ends up sounding kind of creepy.
Overall, “You’ll Accomp’ny Me” is a nice-sounding song, but the sonic sheen hides a darker side to the song that just doesn’t hold up in this day and age. I could see this doing really well or tanking really hard, and the result could be the difference being Ballard becoming the next James Dean or a “Rebel Without A Career.”
Rating: 5/10. I was pretty torn on this one, so you’ll want to give this a few listens before deciding whether to buy it or skip it.