Song Review: Restless Road, “Growing Old With You”

I don’t know if Kane Brown or Dan + Shay is to blame for this, but someone needs to be held responsible.

The seeds of Restless Road were planted, as they are for more artists than you might think, in the soil of reality TV, as the three original members were eliminated from The X Factor in 2013, but were then brought back as a group and ended up finishing fourth together. There’s been a fair bit of turnover in the group since then (members left, members returned, etc.), but the group finally “broke through” by signing with the label of country artist and fellow X Factor auditioner Brown in 2020. It took them another two years before an official radio single “Growing Old With You” reached the airwaves, and it shows: It’s a cheesy wedding song inspired by Parmalee’s “Take My Name” and Dan + Shay’s entire discography, and it feels both dated and derivative, giving you no good reason to choose it over the dozens of similar existing tracks for whatever big moment you’re planning.

I feel like this review is a massive waste of time, because you can probably predict each and every piece of the song just from the previous paragraph. For example, take the production: If you were putting together a country song for wedding season, what instruments would you use? You’d likely use a somber, moody piano to carry the melody, you’d keep time with an unobtrusive percussion line with both real and synthetic elements, you’d keep a string section in the background to provide some formal elegance, you’d throw in the minimum required steel guitar rides required by Music City law, and finally you might add an electric guitar for the bridge solo…in other words, you’d do exactly what they did here. The resulting sound is soft and serious, but I wouldn’t say it reaches the “romantic” threshold, and above all it sounds cookie-cutter and indistinguishable from any other song in this lane. (Seriously, I listened to this back-to-back with “Take My Name,” and the only real difference between the mixes is that at least Restless Road’s producer eschewed the snap track.) It’s a product following a playbook, and ultimately feels unimaginative and disposable compared to its peers.

Lead singing duties are split between Garrett Nichols and Colton Pack for this track (Zach Beeken is relegated to Brian Kelly “potted plant in the background” duty), but I’m really not sure why: The two lead artists sound virtually indistinguishable, and if you didn’t know this was a group you’d assume that there was only one person with a microphone. There aren’t any technical issues to speak of here (and Nichols shows off some decent range by going low on the bridge), but the vocals feel stock and cookie-cutter (put anyone else behind the mic, and the song would sound the exact same), and thus I don’t find the track any more compelling or believable than any other Boyfriend track I’ve heard in the last few years. The harmony work suffers from the same problem: It’s okay overall, but it’s nothing you couldn’t recreate with a few session backup singers. The biggest issue is that the band fails the band test: None of the three artists bring anything to the table to give the band its own identity (Pack plays the piano in the music video, but there’s nothing terribly unique about his performance), so what’s the point of the band in the first place? In sum, the trio’s attempt at feeling earnest and romantic falls flat, and only serves to raise questions about why the band exists at all.

Let’s go back to our original exercise: If we moved from the producer’s chair to the writing room, what would you put in a song like this? You’d have the narrator talk about how the other person changed their life’s trajectory, and then list off all the things they’d like to do together: Buy a house, raise some kids, sit out on the front porch, and above all, grow old together, which is exactly what we get from the lyrics here. You can tell this was a calculated effort on the part of the writers (I can’t believe it took three people to generate this drivel), because they stuck to vague language and generic milestones in order to maximize its appeal, refusing to give the song any personality and forcing the user to fill in the blanks. The result is an empty shell of a track that can’t stand on its own if the listener can’t fill in all the holes, and in truth it doesn’t feel like much of a love song at all, as it focuses almost explicitly on future events and barely touches on the protagonist’s feelings at all. It’s too bland and algorithmic to forge any real connection or draw any sort of feelings from its audience, and it’s nothing more than a mindless add to a wedding reception playlist for the DJs of the world.

“Growing Old With You” is a empty template of a wedding song that ironically doesn’t seem like it would age well itself. Everything about it feels rote and manufactured, from its lightweight sound to its paint-by-numbers writing to a trio of artists that don’t have a shred of personality between them. Not only should this song not exist, but I’m not even convinced that Restless Road should exist, as they come across as a copy of a copy and lack any defining features as a group (honestly, I’m surprised these guys aren’t getting the blowback that King Calaway got when they tried to break into the scene). There are already way better songs out there to use to celebrate a marriage, and there’s no reason to include this one on either your wedding or your radio playlist. Restless Road better find some better material fast, because they’re staring down a long road to nowhere with this track.

Rating: 5/10. You’re free to let this one pass.

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