Sorry Mr. Anderson, but neotraditional Bro Country is still Bro Country.
Carlton Anderson is a Texas native who scored his first record deal with Arista Nashville just a few short months ago, and almost immediately released his debut single “Drop Everything” to country radio. Frankly, this is the most conflicted I’ve been about a song all year. On one hand, the sound hits my neotraditional nostalgia right in the feels, and Anderson acquits himself incredibly well and demonstrates a lot of potential as an artist. This particular song, however, is pure garbage, as the typical Bro tropes and the narrator’s insufferable attitude completely ruin the song’s atmosphere. I’m all for injecting more fiddle and steel in the genre, but not at the expense of common decency.
The production here feels ripped straight from William Michael Morgan’s playbook, suggesting that Arista is trying to position Anderson as the latest neotraditional champion. From a sonic standpoint, they totally succeed: The fiddle gets a ton of airtime amidst the guitars and drums (the steel guitar is mostly used alongside an organ for background noise on the chorus, but at least it’s noticeable), and unlike Rucker et al.’s “Straight To Hell,” the guitars and drums actually have enough punch to make the song feel lively and energetic (even though the tempo isn’t that much different between the two). The mix is a bit too heavy on the minor chords for my tastes (it conflicts with what is otherwise a bright, happy-sounding mix), but it’s got a surprisingly-catchy groove that really gets your toes tapping. It’d be a really fun song to listen to…if you ignored the lyrics, that is.
Take Josh Turner, bump his voice up an octave or two, and you’d basically have Anderson’s voice. (Actually, I get a distinct Turner vibe from the production as well.) While Anderson’s delivery isn’t quite as easy as Turner’s and doesn’t feature quite as much range at either end, Anderson has just as much charm and earnestness as his deep-voiced forebearer, and his performance goes down smooth and easy. He seems like the kind of singer that could take a slightly-sketchy song and inject enough feeling and sincerity to elevate it to something more palatable, and he does that here to a point. This song is a lot more than slightly sketchy, however, and as talented an Anderson is, the writing weighs him down like a lead balloon and drags him down into the gutter. Seriously, whosever idea it was to saddle Anderson with this as his lead single needs to be demoted to Arista’s mail room immediately.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it: These. Lyrics. Suck. The narrator appears to be the same neanderthal from such classics as Jake Owen’s “If He Ain’t Gonna Love You” and Jordan Davis’s’ “Singles You Up,” as he stumbles across a woman at a bar and immediately tries to peel her away from her current boyfriend and take her home for some casual sex. (As an aside, can country music cool it with the cliché Marvin Gaye “let’s get it on” references already? They were getting old six months ago.) Never mind the fact that the woman already has plans for the night and doesn’t seem to be the slightest bit interested in the narrator, she should “drop everything” and get in this guy’s truck for a nightcap and a roll in the hay, and oh yeah, he just has to kiss her right this very moment. This pushy, self-centered attitude makes the narrator come off like the world’s biggest douchebag, and by the end you’re rooting for the lady to smash a bottle over the guy’s head and kick him in the nuts. All three of the bozos responsible for this drivel need to have their pens taken away until they learn some manners.
I feel badly for Carlton Anderson, because he honestly seems like a talented singer and his voice is a good fit for 90s-era production. However, all the fiddle breaks and vocal ability in the world can’t cover up a song this slimy, and “Drop Everything” is an unvarnished throwback to everything I despised about the Bro-Country era. This song belongs nowhere near country radio in 2018, and with any luck, Arista will move on to Anderson’s next single sooner rather than later.
Rating: 3/10. Next!