Okay, we’re just scraping the bottom of the barrel at this point.
A quick glance at this week’s Country Aircheck indicates that a whole lot of nothing is coming down the pike for country radio for the next couple of weeks, which means critics like me are left overanalyzing the few songs that are sitting on the launchpad right now. That’s pretty much the only reason I’m paying attention to Trea Landon, a Georgia native who signed with Warner Music last year and is pretty much the poster child for Nashville’s assembly line of faceless young male artists. Landon’s current single “Loved By A Country Boy” is a perfect snapshot of every ill that’s plaguing country radio right now: A generic, blend-in-with-the-crowd sound, a complete lack of imagination in the songwriting department, and an indistinguishable vocal performance that the typical listener couldn’t pick out of a lineup (and wouldn’t care to do even if they could).
The production here is so lifeless and basic that it sound like the whole band took a bunch of Unisom tablets before walking into the studio. This is the same old guitar-and-drum mix you’ve heard a hundred times before, with one surprising addition…oh wait, it’s the slow-rolling token banjo we all thought had fallen out of favor several years ago. I get that the producer wants to set the proper mood and not get in the way of Landon’s vocals, but there’s a big difference between “restrained” and “barely playing the darn instrument”: The guitar riffs and percussion lines are so simple and monotonous that they’re only one step above a GarageBand loop, and they’re so lethargic that they drain any sort of energy or groove from the song. The song claims that being “loved by a country boy” is really awesome, but it certainly doesn’t sound like it thanks to the darker tones and minor chords that make up this snoozefest. This whole mess reeks of laziness and conformity, and frankly, I’ve made more interesting mixes on my freaking MacBook.
Landon’s voice reminds me a lot of Keith Urban and Hunter Hayes, but it’s got the least texture of the three (perhaps because of all the vocal effects it’s buried under, especially on the chorus). Neither his range nor his flow are tested here, although in the case of the former it’s not the song’s fault for a change. Landon’s delivery is inexplicitly flat and monotone, and he barely raises his voice or his pitch throughout the entire song. He delivers his argument for country-boy love in the same tone that you might read your shopping list in, and as a result he completely fails to sell the audience on the virtue of his viewpoint. (Give this song to darn near anyone else in the genre, and it would probably sound a lot better.) I can’t find even a hint of charisma or earnestness in this performance, and the reaction it draws from both the listener and whoever Landon is singing to is nothing but a sigh and an eye roll. Sorry Trea, but we’ve got enough unconvincing wannabe crooners in the genre; we don’t need one more.
And the lyrics? Good grief, just look at them:
Have you ever layed down on a blanket
Underneath the harvest moon?
Looked up at a shooting star yeah
And knew a wish was made on you?
How ’bout a little dirt road ride?
How ’bout a little dancing on my hood?
Ain’t talkin’ ’bout good enough no
I’m talkin’ ’bout so damn good
Ever since I singled out Jon Langdon for his generic lyrics, it feels like singers are lining up to say “Hey, I can top that!” This thing’s got pretty much everything you’d expect: Pickups, skinny dipping, dirt roads, summer nights…thank goodness they skipped the bridge, or we’d have gotten the requisite alcohol and bonfire references too. The narrator’s call to “come and get this love, baby” and their repeated insistence that country-boy love is the best love makes them feel more creepy than romantic, and makes me root for the person being sung at to throw their drink in the narrator’s face and then kick them in the crotch. There’s just nothing here to convince the audience that’s it worth paying attention to the song, and for a newer artist trying to break into the business, that’s the worst possible outcome.
I am really getting tired of these weak, paint-by-numbers attempts at making love songs, and “Loved By A Country Boy” is one of the weakest I’ve heard yet. The production is dull, the writing is bland, Trea Landon gives us more reasons not to remember his name than anything else, and the whole darn package is completely devoid of creativity. I put more effort into reviewing this song than Landon and his team did in making it, and with any luck, I’ll never have to waste my words on them ever again.
Rating: 4/10. *sigh*