Song Review: Parmalee, “Sunday Morning”

Don’t look now, but it’s time for our yearly dose of Parmalee pop-country. Don’t worry though, you won’t taste a thing.

Parmalee has released a single song every year since its mainstream debut in 2012, and while they achieved some success with their debut album Feels Like Carolina, things haven’t gone quite as well for their second disc 27861. The leadoff single “Roots” sputtered its way to a #35 Billboard airplay peak, and “Sunday Morning” has taken almost three months just to crack the Top 50 on Mediabase. After a few listens, it’s easy to tell why the song has been slow to catch on: It’s a bland, generic song that doesn’t stand out from its peers.

The production sets a serious atmosphere right from the start, opening with a darker-toned piano and a punchy bass drum that does a nice job driving the beat. The choruses mix in some growling electric guitars and a superfluous drum machine, and the sound becomes a bit less unique as a result. Both the piano and the song’s reliance on minor chords help drive home the pressure of the verses, but the mood is a bit too heavy for choruses that try to celebrate the impact of the singer’s significant other. Overall, it’s not bad, but it’s not really impactful either.

Lead singer Matt Thomas doesn’t has the most distinct or unique voice (give this song to someone like Luke Bryan or Thomas Rhett, and it basically sounds the same), but he does a good job selling the song and making it sound believable. Unlike the production, Thomas is able to properly adjust his tone from the seriousness of the verses to the reverence of the chorus. The song is a moderate test of Thomas’s range and flow, and he passes both with a workmanlike delivery. Finally, the harmonies here are nothing special, which is a little surprising for a group (you expect a bit more than from an individual singer). Overall, Thomas’s vocals and charisma are fine, but they lack that extra something to make the song more compelling.

The writing here is a tale of a narrator overwhelmed by the chaos of the world around him, and how their significant other is the one who rescues him from despair and makes life bearable. There’s nothing here that you haven’t heard a thousand time before: the theme, the imagery, the co-opting of religious terminology, etc. On top of it, the lyrics themselves feel rudimentary rather than clever: “You don’t have to get on my mind/’Cause you’re already on it,” is what passes for wit on this track. It’s bland, it’s boring, and it doesn’t convince the listener to actually care about what’s being said. (It’s also shown up badly by its contemporaries, such as Jerrod Niemann’s “God Made A Woman” and Drake White’s “Makin’ Me Look Good Again.”)

Overall, “Sunday Morning” is about as middle-of-the-road as you get on a country track, and thus only rises to the level of “forgettable radio filler.” Neither the production nor the vocals nor the writing gives you a good reason to pay attention to this song, so you might as well spend your time listening to something better.

Let’s hope Parmalee can give us something a bit more interesting next year.

Rating: 5/10. You won’t notice it even if you hear it.

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