Is there such as thing as a song being “too fun?” The answer depends on the message your song is trying to get across.
Old Dominion is a band best known for creepy Bro-Country tunes like “Break Up With Him” and “Beer Can In A Truck Bed,” and more-serious material was in short supply on their debut album Meat & Candy. The group appears to be trying to adjust their image slightly with “No Such Thing As A Broken Heart,” the lead single from their upcoming second album, but even though the group gets an A for effort, the remnants of the old Old Dominion end up muddling the song’s message.
The production here is mostly standard pop-country fare, but the track is dominated by the synthetic hand-clap percussion, which gives the song an energetic whimsy similar to Brett Eldredge’s “Somethin’ I’m Good At” (even though the latter was driven by actual bass drums). Carrying the melody falls to the guitars, which alternate between a spry-but-quiet acoustic guitar on the verses and a bright electric guitar on the choruses and bridge. The song has a lot of toe-tapping energy and is a lot of fun to listen to, but I’m not quite sure it matches what the song is trying to say (more on this later).
Lead singer Matthew Ramsey has a decent voice, and happy-sounding songs like this are right in his wheelhouse, but his flow is beyond choppy on the song’s verses, to the point of distracting the listener from the rest of the song. He sounds much better on the chorus, however, and the band’s surprisingly-good harmony on the background vocals (which remind me of Shenandoah for some reason) keep the song’s momentum moving in the right direction.
The lyrics here are trying to be both topical and optimistic: Life is hard and things look pretty bleak right now, but that’s no reason to give up on the things you believe in. The song only cites love directly, but there seems to be a political statement here if you read between the lines, as if the song is a veiled call to action, and to stay strong “when the whole world is down on its luck.” However, the uptempo, energetic production seems to overwhelm this idea, and the song instead comes off as “Oh, just do your thing and ignore everything else,” which seems to undercut the song’s deeper message.
Overall, “No Such Things As A Broken Heart” is a decent song, but one that makes me wonder if Old Dominion was attempting to say something meaningful but wound up overshooting their mark. It’s a step up from some of there past material, though, so I wouldn’t mind seeing the group pursue this direction a bit more on their next album. After all, practice makes perfect, right?
Rating: 6/10. Give it a few spins and see what you think.