A wise man once said that “a man’s got to know his limitations.” Tyler Farr should have been taking notes.
Farr received his fifteen minutes of fame a few years ago, putting together a string of three straight top-five hits that was capped by 2014’s No. 1 hit “A Guy Walks Into A Bar.” His chart performance fell off a cliff after that song, however, and two of his last three singles failed to even crack the top fifty on Billboard’s airplay chart (and the third only made it to #26). “I Should Go To Church Sometime” appears to be slated as the second single from a new album (or perhaps the first single, if 2016’s #53-peaking “Our Town” is thrown in the trash), and frankly, I don’t see it making much more of an impact than the rest of Farr’s recent material.
The production here is mostly a standard country-rock mix, but with a few nods to the song’s religious underpinnings. The track opens with a quiet mixture of guitars (both acoustic and electric) and synthetic percussion, and then builds energy as it goes along by adding real drums and cranking up the guitars’ volume (so much so that it throws off the volume balance of the song). The piano stabs after the first verse do a nice job of adding weight to the “I should go to church sometime” lines, and the eventual inclusion of an organ and a choir of background vocals accentuate the song’s message of desired redemption, even if both are mostly overwhelmed by Farr’s vocals and the guitars. In short, the production is not the problem here.
The problem, unfortunately, is Tyler Farr himself, because he sounds terrible on this track. Much like we saw with Josh Turner’s latest single, this song is a really poor fit for Farr’s voice because it asks him to stray far outside of his comfort zone. The difference, however, is that Turner is actually a good vocalist who can put together a decent performance even when a song isn’t well-suited for him. Farr, in contrast, might be the weakest vocalist in the genre right now, and his raspy, labored delivery completely falls apart under this song’s weight. He handles the less-demanding verses pretty well, but the moment the song hits the chorus and asks him to pump up the volume and intensity, his tone disappears, his voice becomes shrill, and he struggles to hit the required notes—basically, he stops singing and starts screaming. Dropping the song’s key down a notch or two and reining in the production swell on the choruses might have helped here, but there’s only so much a producer can do when a performer just doesn’t have the chops to handle a song.
It’s a shame Farr can’t deliver the goods here, because the writing is actually pretty decent. The lyrics tell the tale of a man who is moved by the pain and suffering around him and feels he needs to pay more attention to his faith and become a better believer, starting by going to church more often. The song features some poignant lines like “wipe the dust off my bible more than once or twice a year,” and avoids being preachy by focusing on the narrator’s personal relationship with his faith rather than demanding that others follow his lead. While the scenes of despair are pretty generic (homeless man, kid dying young), it’s the kind of song that connects with listeners struggling with their own religious attitudes…until Farr hits the chorus and makes everyone’s ears start bleeding.
Overall, “I Should Go To Church Sometime” is a poorly-executed song that exposes Tyler Farr’s vocal limitations in the most painful way possible. In the hands of a power vocalist like Brett Eldredge or Chris Stapleton, this probably would have been a pleasant-yet-potent track, but with Farr behind the wheel, it’s just an earache that can’t finish fast enough. Farr and his team need to put a bit more effort into finding songs that he can actually sing the next time around.
Rating: 4/10. Spare your ears and skip this one.