This song is a case of “do as I say, not as I do,” because for all its ambition, it doesn’t manage to cut a groove itself.
Charlie Worsham has generated a lot of critical buzz with his work over the last few years, but his chart presence has been mediocre at best, with his best showing being a #13 peak for his debut single “Could It Be” back in 2013. It’s not hard to see why Worsham’s debut resonated—despite its generic subject matter, the track was enjoyable because it allowed his enthusiasm and personality to shine through. Unfortunately, “Cut Your Groove,” the leadoff single for Worsham’s second album The Beginning Of Things, just feels sterile and bland by comparison.
The production here, in a word, is lightweight. The melody is anchored by a prominent acoustic guitar and flavored with some old-school string swells and horn stabs, with what sounds like a mix of real and synthetic percussion keeping time in the background. While the song establishes a passable mid-tempo groove, the sound feels oddly restrained and lacks any sort of punch, and thus fails to build and maintain any energy as it goes along. (This is one of the rare songs that should have been a notch or two louder to help inject some life into it.) Despite being a multi-talented instrumentalist, Worsham isn’t given a chance to show off his skills, a decision made even more baffling by the inclusion of a long, empty-sounding space after the second chorus that would have been a perfect time for him to cut loose. It doesn’t sound bad, but it doesn’t give you a compelling reason to pay attention to it either.
Worsham is a decent enough vocalist, but he feels as restrained and bland as the production here. His delivery feels flat and almost monotonic, his range is constrained to a narrow band by the song (outside of the superfluous falsetto “ooh-oohs” between the second chorus and bridge), and he exhibits none of the enthusiasm present on “Could It Be.” Despite the song’s positive, optimistic tone, it really doesn’t feel like Worsham is enjoying himself here (in fact, it feels like he’s just forcing himself to get through it), and as a result his message really doesn’t connect with the listener. Again, it’s not terrible, but it’s not memorable.
Thematically, the song attempts to be a positive anthem that implores the listener to get out there and make their mark on the world. Unfortunately, this is a well-worn trope in most every genre of music (heck, Lauren Alaina just took a similarly-themed song to No. 1 with “Road Less Traveled”), and as novel as Worsham’s record metaphor is, the song just doesn’t do enough to stand out from the crowd. The lyrics here are a bit unfocused at times (they start talking about how songs that get associated with different events in the second verse, which feels a bit off-topic), and there are a few nonsensical lines like “you don’t have to famous, to be famous.” On the whole, though, the lyrics aren’t the problem here; it’s everything else that feels subpar. Alaina’s recent hit worked because she knocked the ball out of the park with her performance, whereas Worsham only drew a walk and got stranded at first base.
Overall, “Cut Your Groove” is not a bad song, just an uninteresting one, and it’s a poor choice for a leadoff single given the available options (I would have preferred “I-55” or “The Beginning Of Things” personally). Worsham may be encouraging listeners to put themselves out there and do something that people will remember, but with this song, he failed to take his own advice.
Rating: 5/10. You’re not missing anything special here.