Song Review: Adam Craig, “If You’re Lucky”

“If You’re Lucky,” this will be the last you ever hear of Adam Craig.

When last we left Craig, he was a milking a doomed relationship for all it was worth in “Just A Phase,” which earned him a laughable #35 peak on Billboard and a dishonorable mention on my “worst songs of 2017” list. While he apparently did release a single last year, it wasn’t successful enough to make either the Billboard or Mediabase chart, and so I figured that Nashville had finally run out of room for mediocre young male artists in country music and decided to show Craig the door. (Silly me, right?) Unfortunately, Craig has resurfaced once again with a new song for our listening “pleasure”: “If You’re Lucky,” a pandering rural-pride anthem that couldn’t be more generic and boring if it tried. This thing is the very definition of radio filler, and is so sleep-inducing that you should avoid listening to it while driving or operating heavy machinery.

The production may reflect the broader industry trend of returning to more-traditional arrangements, but it’s so simply constructed and aggressively bland that it just doesn’t hold the listener’s attention. It’s the same old guitar-and-drum mix that everyone else is using these days, and it sounds so methodical and repetitive that you get the distinct sense that the musicians were just going through the motions in the studio (not even the steel guitar riffs or electric guitar solo inject any life into this thing). There’s a lot of noise here, but far less energy than you would expect, and it completely fails to sell the perks of life in the country. Finally, the lack of both momentum and tempo just makes the track drag from beginning to end. (The only reason you’ll be tapping your toe is that you’ll be impatiently waiting for the song to hurry up and finish.) In other words, unless you’re looking for a substitute for Ambien, you’ve got no reason to pay attention to this thing.

Similarly, Craig only manages to half-sell the greatness of rural life with his Mike Eli impression here. His range is fine, but he struggles with his flow when the lyrics try to cram too many words into a line, and his delivery is so stock and vanilla that he fails to own the narrator’s role and sell the song to his audience. (Stick anyone else behind the mic, and not only would this song sound the exact same, there’s a good chance it would sound better.) I just don’t feel any emotion or personality from Craig on this track, and while that’s actually a step up from the selfish nihilism he brought to the table in “Just A Phase,” it doesn’t convince the listener to care about what he’s saying, let alone consider folks who had this kind of upbringing to be “lucky.” With so many artists already playing in this lane and new ones rolling off of Nashville’s assembly line every day, why would anyone settle for a mediocre performance like this?

And then we get to the lyrics, which is nothing more than a grab bag of every rural trope ever created: Trucks, alcohol, chewing tobacco, high school football, ballcaps and jeans, military service, fried chicken, Psalm 23…seriously, this thing is a hound dog reference away from being every nostalgic, sepia-tinged trip down memory lane rolled into one. This is nothing more than a stealth “I’m so country!” song (the narrator never actually says that they’re one of the lucky ones, but it’s heavily implied), but it tries to be so generic and broad in order to maximize its audience that it doesn’t feel like it says anything at all. (As much as I disliked Blake Shelton’s “I Lived It,” at least it had enough detail to set the scene.) It’s too vague for the audience to truly relate to it, and it’s too bland to even motivate the audience to try.

“If You’re Lucky” is a song that simply doesn’t justify its existence, thanks to across-the-board lack of flavor and abundance of mediocrity. The lyrics are so cookie-cutter that you could guess them before you even hear the song, and neither Adam Craig nor the producer are able to distinguish themselves and give the track any real meaning. Its only unique quality is its utter lack of unique qualities, and if we’re all lucky, it’ll be the last time we have to put up with Adam Craig.

Rating: 5/10. It’s not worth your time.

Song Review: Adam Craig, “Just A Phase”

When faced with a problem, you have two options: You can do something about it, or you can sit back and enjoy your view of the world burning. Unfortunately, on “Just A Phase,” Adam Craig chose the latter.

Craig has been kicking around Nashville since 2004, and while he’s managed to get a few songwriting credits on some more-prominent singers’ albums (including Parmalee’s 2014 Top 5 hit “Close Your Eyes”), he didn’t get a chance to step into the spotlight until 2016 with his self-titled EP and debut single “Reckon,” which performed so well that Billboard doesn’t even have a record of it in its database. Undeterred, Craig released “Just A Phase” as his follow-up single from the EP, and while it’s already cracked the Top 50 on Mediabase and Billboard, I don’t see it being remembered any more than its predecessor.

The production here is very sparse and restrained, and frames the song as a slow-groove R&B tune. The song opens with a quiet electric guitar keeping time (it reminds me a little bit of Keith Urban’s “Blue Ain’t Your Color”), and gradually adds brighter guitars and a drum set, as well as a piano keeping time in the background. Instead of building volume and energy as it goes along, however, the track just plods along lazily, projecting an easygoing vibe that unfortunately fits the song a little too well.

Vocally, Craig sounds like a carbon copy of Billy Currington, with the exact same range, flow, and delivery. Currington is a decent vocalist in his own right and isn’t the worst person in the world to sound like…except that he’s an established veteran with a sizable discography and who’s still active today (in fact, he’s on the verge of cracking the Top 30 with “Do I Make You Wanna” at this very moment). There’s nothing about Craig’s vocals that make him stand out in his own right, which means he runs the risk of being overshadowed even if the song does well. People will just wonder why Currington has two songs on the charts at the same time!

My biggest problem with “Just A Phase,” however, are the lyrics and theme. The narrator here is in a relationship with a woman that he is absolutely certain is doomed to fail, and that said woman will soon realize that this whole thing is “just a phase.” Question for you, Craig: If you think this relationship is destined to crash and burn, why don’t you, oh, I don’t know, do something about it? You could analyze the reasons why this whole thing is doomed and take steps to address those reasons before everything collapses, or end the whole thing right now to let both of you get on with your lives and find relationships that are more sustainable. Instead, the narrator chooses a third option: He throws up his hands, puts up his feet, and decides to milk the relationship for all that it’s worth until it ends. Consequently, the narrator comes off as lazy and self-centered, someone that’s more inclined to take the easy way out than put in the time and effort to make things work. It’s an infuriating attitude, and no amount of R&B or Billy Currington can redeem it.

Overall, “Just A Phase” is a mediocre song that gets dragged down by the uncaring nature of its narrator. I’m sure Adam Craig isn’t as bad a guy as the character he portrays, but if he doesn’t come up with some stronger, less-irritating material next time, he runs the risk of his career ending up the same way as the relationship in this song.

Rating: 4/10. It’s not worth your time.