Good grief, hasn’t country music filled its party song quota by now?
Boyfriend country better start checking its rearview mirror, because the genre’s next big trend has arrived. For lack of a better term, I’m calling it the “Cobronavirus” movement: In the face of the unspeakable tragedy that is the COVID-19 pandemic, country music has turned back to the nihilistic party-for-party’s-sake songs that defined the original Bro-Country trend in the 2010s. We’ve seen songs like Luke Bryan’ s”One Margarita,” Brad Paisley’s “No I In Beer,” Lady Antebellum’s “Champagne Night,” and even Florida Georgia Line’s “I Love My Country” moving up the charts over the last few months, and now Brothers Osborne is hopping aboard the train with the duo’s latest single “All Night.” While it does a decent job distinguishing itself sonically from its brethren, it’s just a fresh coat of paint on a rotting, structurally-unsound foundation, and isn’t any more interesting or worthwhile than its predecessors.
Let’s start with the good stuff first: The better songs in this vein distinguish themselves through the atmosphere they establish with their production (think Bryan’s beach vibe in “One Margarita”), and “All Night” falls into the same category. The key features are John Osborne’s deep, growling electric guitar and the in-your-face mix of real and synthetic percussion, which combine to drive the song forward and give it a seriously sharp edge. (Outside of a Wurlitzer piano that pops up starting on the second verse, these are pretty much the only instruments you here.) The mix generates a ton of raw, visceral energy, while also adding a sense of danger to what would otherwise be a run-of-the-mill party track. This is some surprisingly solid sound work, and it’s a shame that it winds up feeling like empty sonic calories when your discover just how poor the writing is.
Adding this extra edge to a song places an additional burden on the vocalist to match its mood, but thankfully TJ Osborne is one of the few artists who have the ability and credibility to pull it off. The brothers have trotted out this “outlaw-lite” sound and attitude several times over the last few years (“It Ain’t My Fault,” “Shoot Me Straight,” teaming with Dierks Bentley on “Burning Man”) and seem much more comfortable and believable in this lane than on something like “I Don’t Remember Me (Before You).” Osborne’s impressive lower range and Trace Adkins-esque growl adds a hint of sexuality to the mix and makes you think things will actually get crazy during this rager (perhaps not always in a good way either…). This extra swagger meshes well with the production and helps the general message resonate with the audience, even if he doesn’t have much of value to say when you dive into the details.
Unfortunately, the lyrics here are terrible even by Cobronavirus standards: The narrator goes through a bunch of repetitive “I got the X, if you got the Y” lines that are nowhere near as clever as the writers think, and said X/Y pairings range from the predictable (“moon” and “shine,” “fuse and “light,”) to the nonsensical (“zig” and “zag”? Really?). It may not be an objectifying or objectionable as your typical Bro-Country track, but that “dancin’ out the demin in them, oh my, Levis” is still pretty cringey, and the “rebel” and “yell” line runs too close to dog-whistling for my tastes. Worst of all, the whole “what good is a life, if you don’t get to livin'” message is exceptionally tone-deaf in the middle of a pandemic where the “livin'” the narrator implies could get you and the people close to you killed. Where a song like Tim McGraw’s “I Called Mama” feel perfectly suited for our times, this track feels perfectly ill-suited for them, and is not a song I’m keen on revisiting after this review.
Simply put, “All Night” falls under the Carlton Anderson rule for me: Sure, the production is decent and TJ Osborne is a believable narrator, but I cannot overlook writing that is this lazy, this awkward, and this annoying. It’s a step down even from the forgettable “I Don’t Remember Me (Before You),” and gets Brothers Osborne no closer to shedding that “one-hit wonder” label I slapped them with in 2018. My biggest fear is that this track is the canary in the coal mine, and that country music’s new Cobronavirus movement, much like the coronavirus pandemic itself, is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.
Rating: 4/10. No thank you.