Song Review: Carly Pearce, “Hide The Wine”

When the sound and the writing mesh well within a song, the result can be magical. When they don’t? You get a confusing song like “Hide The Wine.”

After several false starts and one well-received guest appearance with the Josh Abbott Band, Carly Pearce finally found success on the radio, as “Every Little Thing” reached No. 1 on Billboard’s airplay chart and persuaded Big Machine Records to release her debut album Every Little Thing back in October. Now, much like with Midland’s “Make A Little,” BML decided to switch gears from sad to sultry by releasing “Hide The Wine” as Pearce’s second single. The problem here is that despite the producers’ best efforts, “Hide The Wine” is not meant to be a sexy song, and trying to make it sound like one just makes the song feel confusing instead of cohesive.

The production here attempts to fuse together traditional and modern instrumentation to create a countrified sex jam, but the pieces fit together too awkwardly to make it happen. The song opens with a prominent drum machine and sleazy-sounding electric guitar to establish a swampy-yet-sultry mood (which is further accentuated by a slower tempo), and these remain the primary instruments even as others (dobros, mandolins, real drums, and even a piano providing some bass accents) are mixed in to bolster the track’s country credentials. The drum machine, however, doesn’t mesh well with the rest of the mix, and the minor chords that pop up create a foreboding vibe that leaves the listener confused as to how they should feel about the track. These would be a concern if the writing synced well with the sound; when it doesn’t, you’ve got a major problem on your hands.

So let’s examine the writing for a moment:

Better hide the wine/And get it gone
Oh I better hide every one of them records that turn me on
Turn up the lights/And kill the mood
Oh ’cause baby I just don’t trust myself with you
I better hide the wine

On the surface, this doesn’t sound like a narrator who is looking for a sexual tryst with an old flame—it sounds like someone who is working really hard to avoid one! The verses indicate that it wouldn’t take much to rekindle this relationship, so the narrator wants to “hide the wine” and everything else that might cause a reaction. It’s not particularly witty or clever, but it has its moments (the “Two Buck Chuck” phrase was kind of amusing) and never offends my sensibilities. The problem is that it’s completely orthogonal to the atmosphere the production is trying to set, and the song’s message is lost as a result: Does the narrator really want to avoid rekindling this relationship, or is the song meant to be tongue-in-cheek? Are the lyrics or the production the authoritative voice? Are the minor chords a mood-killer, or the only trustworthy part of the mix? The song provides no answers, and while contradictory tracks can still be enjoyable (Thomas Rhett’s “Crash And Burn,” for example), this one falls short of even that.

If you’re looking for Pearce to break this tie, you’re out of luck: Her delivery leans slightly towards the production’s point of view, but for the most part she seems as conflicted as the rest of the track. This issue is compounded by the fact that the song is not a great fit for her voice: Her range is constrained to her mid-to-lower register (thus robbing her of the vocal power she displayed on “Every Little Thing”) and her flow on the talk-singing portions of the verses is awkward and choppy. As a result, she isn’t as believable as she was on her debut single, and the song is much less interesting or understandable as a result.

I really don’t know what to make of “Hide The Wine,” as the conflicting visions of the writers and producers leave the song a confusing, obfuscated mess. I wouldn’t call it a bad song, but I wouldn’t call it much of anything else either, aside from a sophomore slump that I wouldn’t go out of my way to hear.

Rating: 5/10. It’s radio filler—nothing more, nothing less.