Like a jigsaw puzzle of a nondescript scene, Brooke Eden’s “Act Like You Don’t” seems to have all the pieces needed to make a good song, but it lacks that indescribable quality that compels you to pay attention in the first place.
Up to this point, Eden’s career highlights include two unsuccessful American Idol auditions, two EPs, and her single “Daddy’s Money,” which peaked at #50 last year (two other singles failed to chart at all). “Act Like You Don’t” is the second single off of her latest EP Welcome To The Weekend, and while it’s a perfectably passable single, I can’t help but feel like it’s missing something, some key ingredient needed to draw in ambivalent listeners like myself.
The production here has a retro R&B flare, and consists of a restrained-but-high-pitched electric guitar carrying the melody, and organ providing some background atmosphere, and a mixture of synthetic and real percussion (mostly the former) making up the foundation. The pace of the song feels a bit inconsistent, as the verses give off a relaxed feel while the choruses let the drum machines run a bit too wild and add an unnecessary sense of urgency to the track. The atmosphere runs into the same problem, as the guitar tones establish a slightly-optimistic tone that runs counter by the subject matter and the minor chords used on the chorus. Overall, the mix feels a bit generic, as if we’ve heard all of this before, and doesn’t leave much of an impression with the listener.
For her part, Eden has a good voice that falls somewhere in between LeAnn Rimes and Carly Pearce in its sound. While she gets a little raspy in the lower ranges of her vocals, her upper range is surprisingly strong, and she shows off both her flow and flexibility as the song jumps back and forth between rapid-fire and more-methodical lyrics. She does a great job owning the narrator’s role and making the song believable, but where Pearce succeeded in passing her pain onto the listener on “Every Little Thing,” Eden isn’t quite as effective at doing so here, and she draws a sympathetic reaction rather than truly moving the listener. Again, her performance isn’t bad (in fact, it’s probably the strongest part of the song), but it’s not enough to elevate the track to a more interesting level.
The writing here discusses the narrator’s plea for an ex to at least pretend to make a clean break for the good of both parties, and while it features some strong content, it feels pretty weak from a structural perspective. On one hand, the images are fairly vivid and specific (if a bit generic), and there are some sharp lines like “When I smell a stranger wearing your cologne/It’s like poison to me, yeah I can’t breathe.” On the other hand, however, it feels like half the lines on the song either have too many or too few words, forcing Eden to constantly adjust her flow to fit all the words in or cover the empty space. This pace inconsistency seen in both the lyrics and production seem to be the song’s biggest issue, as it keeps the song from establishing a constant rhythm and building energy as it goes along.
Overall, “Act Like You Don’t” is an inconsistent track that has all of the elements needed for a great song, but doesn’t pull them all together. Brooke Eden shows some flashes of future potential, but there’s an it factor she’s missing here, and she’ll need some stronger material and production backing her up to turn her promise into reality.
Rating: 5/10. You’re free to “Act Like You Don’t” need to hear this one.