Song Review: Thomas Rhett, “Look What God Gave Her”

At what point does an artist need to start thinking about a new schtick?

Thomas Rhett made the leap from a generic Bro to the premier balladeer of country music on the back of heartfelt odes like his 2015 mega-hit “Die A Happy Man,” and he’s gone to that well a lot over the last few years (I labeled “Star Of The Show” and “Unforgettable” as “Die A Happy Man, Part 2 and 3” respectively). 2015 was a long time ago, however, and much like with Kirby Star Allies after Triple Deluxe and Planet Robobot, Rhett’s formula is starting to feel a little stale, and the sense of déjà vu I get from his songs is getting too strong to ignore. Rhett himself seemed to acknowledge that with a turn towards more historical/biographical material with his previous two singles “Life Changes” and “Sixteen,” but for the leadoff single to his upcoming Center Point Road album, he gave us “Die A Happy Man, The Dance Remix” with “Look What God Gave Her,” a decent dance track that nevertheless feels more generic and uninteresting than I expected.

Rhett’s production vacillates between acoustic and electric pop, and “Look What God Gave Her” leans heavily in the latter direction. From the squealing electric guitars that begin the track to the percussion line that is way too crisp and methodical to have a real instrument behind it (and just when you think it isn’t there, a snap track appears briefly on the bridge), this is a mix designed with crossover appeal in mind. The acoustic guitars are still there, especially later in the song, but they’re amplified and don’t have the texture that the axes in Rhett’s earlier ballads did.) The tone here is so cheerful and bright that you almost have to shield your eyes from the mix (which fits the writing like a glove), and there’s certainly enough energy behind the arrangement to entice people to get up and move, but for a romantic song, there’s a decided lack of romance here—it’s just another paint-by-numbers club mix that lacks that special something that makes it stand out and force people to pay attention. Even in the post “Metro-Bro” era, dance tracks remain fairly prevalent in the genre, and this one doesn’t do enough sonically to convince the audience to choose this one over the others.

Vocally, Rhett projects himself as the same earnest, charismatic narrator as he always does, but he doesn’t quite hit his marks on this track. According to Rhett, this song is yet another tune about how awesome his wife is, but the vibe I get is more of a generic “guy meets a girl in a bar for the first time” song, and the woman comes across as faceless and anonymous (literally as “one in seven billion,” in fact) instead of the love of Rhett’s life. (Lyrically, she’s just a pair of eyes and…other implied body parts, but we’ll get to that.) Rhett’s range and flow are solid here and he certainly lets the listener share in his positivity, but just like with the production, I just don’t feel the love like I did on “Die A Happy Man” or its successors. While Rhett has these sorts of songs down to a science, cranking up the tempo and bringing the electric instruments to the forefront really saps the track of its romantic energy, and as capable as Rhett is as a performer, he isn’t able to close the gap by himself.

There are lots of ways to describe the writing (my personal favorite is “a PG version of Trace Adkins’s ‘Honky Tonk Badonkadonk'”), but it’s really just a slight alteration of “Star Of The Show” in which the narrator invites the attention rather than just comment on it. Everything here, from the scene (a dancing woman draws attention, just like in every other song these days) to the product placement (Corona is owned by Anheuser-Busch, Rhett is a Budweiser spokesperson; I’ll leave the math as an exercise for the reader) to the constant religious references (heaven, answered prayers, never losing faith, an angel that “came down from the ceilin,'”…didn’t I just call out Brooks & Dunn and Matt Stell for this?) is pretty boilerplate for a bouncy, lightweight tune like this, and while the target of everyone’s attention is not explicitly objectified, the implications of the hook (“look what God gave her”) are hard to ignore. In other words, it’s a noticeable step back from Rhett’s previous romantic songs.

You could certainly do worse than an upbeat Thomas Rhett love song tailor-made for the upcoming spring/summer season, but given the roll he’s been on lately, I feel like he could do a lot better than this. “Look What God Gave Her” leans too heavily towards the dance vibe that it ceases to becomes a love song and ends up as a simple vehicle to get people moving. The lyrics are entirely ignorable, Rhett’s happiness lacks real purpose, and the whole thing comes across as a vapid, shallow track that will be forgotten the minute the temperature starts dropping again. For most artists this would be a positive step, but for Rhett it’s a little disappointing.

Rating: 6/10. It’s worth a spin or two, but I don’t see it holding up as well as his past material.

One thought on “Song Review: Thomas Rhett, “Look What God Gave Her”

  1. I was wondering if I was the only person starting to tire of T Rhett’s incessant glorification of his wife. At this point I think most of us are thinking, “We get it, bro – your wife is awesome. Can we move on now?” I just don’t think the record label reps have the balls to tell him he needs to dig a little deeper in his songwriting bag of tricks if he ever plans to make an upward, not a lateral, career movement. It’s exactly what’s happening with Dustin Lynch – same old hot girl, same old small town, same old Friday night.

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