Song Review: Seaforth, “Love That”

Yeah…there’s not a lot to love here.

The only industry that tries to copy successful formulas more than the NFL is country music, so the mere existence of Seaforth serves as validation for mediocre, lightweight, pop-country approach of Dan + Shay. Named after the Australian neighborhood that Tom Jordan and Mitch Thompson grew up in, the duo split time between the two countries before signing a deal with Sony Nashville late last year and releasing their debut EP Love That last month. The title track from the EP is now being shipped to radio as their official debut single, and it’s exactly what you’d expect from a Dan + Shay knockoff: A slick, forgettable Metropolitan retread that just doesn’t elicit any emotion from its audience.

The production here is an awkward blend of acoustic and synthetic elements that fall a bit short of the sensual atmosphere the song is shooting for. The electronic elements are the most prominent here, with a synth riff and drum machine holding down the fort until after the first chorus (a snap track even jumps in!) when some slick guitars, real drums, and even some bluegrass instruments (mandolin, banjo) jump it to crank up the volume. The mix reverses the usual volume swell, dialing the sound back for the choruses instead of rising to a crescendo here like most tracks (the final chorus is an exception, however), and seems to bounce between an attempted sex jam (which never works in country music) and an uptempo, more-conventional guitar-and-drum sound. In truth, I’m really not sure what mood this arrangement is shooting for, but with its darker instrument tones and occasional minor chords, it doesn’t seem to capture the unofficial-yet-spicy flavor of the romance (the narrator says they “love that,” but I’m not hearing a lot of enjoyment in the sound). The whole thing feels a bit scattershot to me, and doesn’t entice the listener to pay attention or go out of their way to hear more.

Unlike most duos, there isn’t a designated lead singer here, as Jordan and Thompson split the lead on the verses (the choruses seem to always stick Jordan on the harmony part), but both of them have similar voices are come across as breathier, lower-pitched versions of Shay Mooney. The song pushes Thompson to the edge of his lower range, but in generally both singers have enough range and decent-enough flow to handle the demands of the song, and there’s at least some vocal chemistry between the pair. Believability, however, is another matter: Despite how hard the writing tries to sell the sensual angle of the song, neither vocalist sounds terribly sexy here, and very little emotion or romance is actually passed along to the audience. Looking back, I’ve had some of the same complaints for Dan + Shay’s latest songs (tolerable technically, unconvincing emotionally), so I’d say Seaforth is doing too good a job of imitating their predecessors.

The writing tries to take the song in an interesting direction by declaring that hot-and-cold relationship between the narrator and their partner is actually part of what makes things exciting (“the pleasure with the plain, there’s somethin’ ’bout that”). Setting aside the fact that this doesn’t sound like a terribly healthy relationship for anyone, the details here focus so much on the “hot” part of the relationship (“under covers, late night lovers,” Heavy breathing, touching, teasing,” etc.) that it makes the narrator sound disingenuous when claim that the “cold” parts are what make the whole thing worthwhile. (While there’s a sliver of self-awareness in the “try to fight back, but I relapse” line, it’s overwhelmed by the abundance of sensual imagery and quickly forgotten.) There’s also a fair amount of laundry-list writing here (see the examples above), and the scenes fly by so fast that the the listener doesn’t get enough time to really process them. It’s the kind of song that needs a lot of help from the sound and singer to set the mood and help deliver the message, and with both Seaforth and their producer sending mixed signals, it ends up leaving the audience feeling underwhelmed.

“Love That” falls into the typical debut-single trap of feeling like just another song by just another country act, and brazenly stepping on the toes of an established (albeit mediocre) act like Dan + Shay further anonymizes their attempt at breaking onto the scene. The production is unfocused, the writing is unconvincing, and Seaforth as a duo doesn’t do enough to distinguish themselves from the rest of the crowded field of country music pairings. I know that finding your place in the genre can take some time and albums to establish, but that first song needs to put a stake in the ground and announce to the world that you are here to kick butts and take names, and this one falls short on every count.

Rating: 5/10. Nothing to hear here, folks.