Song Review: Cale Dodds, “I Like Where This Is Going”

Another boring, generic Bro-Lite song? I don’t like where this is going.

Jake Owen lookalike Cale Dodds is a Georgia native who signed with Warner  Music early in 2017, but despite the usual “one to watch!” magazine features and a few singles (“All Over,” “Take You Back”) released over a year ago, he hasn’t made any inroads into country radio yet and doesn’t have a ton of buzz around him at this point. Dodds and WMG are hoping to change that with his new single “I Like Where This Is Going,” but if the goal is to get people to notice you, this song is probably the worst possibly to do it: It’s yet another slick, overdone, heard-a-million-times-before nighttime rendezvous song, the type that has been flooding the genre for the last few years, and there’s nothing here to even attract your attention at all, let alone distinguish it from its peers.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The production opens with a slick electric guitar backed with a mixture of real and synthetic percussion (yep, more snap tracks for Grady Smith to enjoy), with a token banjo and a few spacious synths in the background. Seriously, the producer couldn’t have made this mix sound any more cookie-cutter if they had tried. On top of that, all the riffs and beats sound incredibly basic, as if the musicians were either given strict orders to be boring or couldn’t be bothered to spice things up a bit. The moderate tempo provides absolutely zero energy, the instrument tones feels a bit too dark for the subject matter (and the minor chords don’t help matters any), and instead of the sexy and vibe the song is going for, the mood is stale and sleep-inducing. Frankly, there is absolutely nothing redeeming or noteworthy about this mix, and it’ll slide in one ear and out the other without you ever realizing it was there. While it’s not officially a debut single, it’s essentially one because of how little notoriety Dodds has gotten thus far, and it’s about the worst possible sound you could use for the occasion: Very few people will bother to pay attention, and those that do will be asleep by the second chorus.

Vocally, it’s hard to find a comparison to Dodds’s voice, mostly because you can hear shades of a lot of people in it (ranging from Tyler Hubbard to Tucker Beathard). While his technical skills are decent enough (satisfactory range, untested flow) and his issues aren’t too glaring (he can sound a little nasal sometimes, and a little rough at other times), he doesn’t demonstrate the kind of charisma required for a song like this. I’m sure he’s attracted with the other person in this song, but I’m not really feeling the love myself, as Dodds fails to move the listener and draw them into the track. (The silver lining is that this narrator doesn’t seem as sleazy as other narrators, but only by a small margin.) Give this song to a more earnest, experienced singer (say, Brett Young?), and it might catch the audience’s attention, but there’s nothing distinctive or interesting in Dodds’s delivery that interests people in hearing more. I wouldn’t call it terribly good or terribly bad, but when you’re trying to make a name for yourself, begin stuck in between the extremes might be the worst outcome of all.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The narrator is picking up their significant other for a night of drinking, dancing, driving, and eventually making out (hence the narrator’s happy proclamation that “I like where this is going”). This sort of song was done to death during the Metro-Bro era, and there are still a few of these clogging up the airwaves today (“Make Me Want To,” “Ridin’ Roads,” etc.). Aside from a stock Americana wheat field scene, this iteration of the tale offers nothing beyond the tired tropes we all got sick of three years ago. As usual, the narrator’s attempts at being sexy fall completely flat, and they’re exposed as a sex-hungry meathead whose actual devotion to the other person is questionable at best. In 2019, this sort of songwriting feels both slimy and lazy, and with so many of these tracks already in the wild, this one just doesn’t justify its existence.

“I Like Where This Is Going” is a misnomer, because it goes where every song like this goes, and I’m getting really tired of going there. It’s bland, it’s tired, it’s unoriginal, and with such mediocrity coming from all parties (sound, singer, and writers), it’s just not worth giving this song the time of day. Cale Dodds is pretty much the embodiment of the “horde of faceless men” dominating the airwaves right now, and I don’t see any reason why we need to make room for one more.

Rating: 4/10. Nope.