Song Review: Runaway June, “Buy My Own Drinks”

I recently passed on a chance to see Runaway June in concert nearby, but if they had been promoting this as their latest single, I might have reconsidered my decision.

Runaway June seems to be on the same once-a-year release schedule that Chase Bryant is, but last year’s offering “Wild West” was an uninteresting bore that was mostly ignored by the radio, peaking at a weak #36 on Billboard’s airplay chart. New acts don’t get too many second chances to make a first impression in the genre (especially female artists, as country radio is inexplicably hostile to them), so for the trio’s third single, they decided to “go big or go home,” and selected “Buy My Own Drinks” as their  2018 single. Honestly, the third time just might be the charm for this group, as this song is a fun, punchy song with a ton of confidence behind it, and it’s a real blast to listen to.

The productions opens with a catchy, sticks-only beat and acoustic guitar rhythm, getting its groove on early and bringing a ton of energy to the table. The mix gets a bit more conventional as it rolls along, tossing in electric guitars and a mix of real and synthetic percussion, but it maintains (and perhaps even increases) its energy level and creates a celebratory, confident atmosphere that complements the attitude of the writing: Even when forced to deal with the aftermath of her wild night, the bright, bouncy instruments combine with the self-assured vocals to declare that the narrator is more than up to the task. While Hannah Mulholland’s mandolin is mostly left in the background here, it gets a little room to breathe after the choruses, though not enough to really give the song a unique sonic flair. Still, it’s a fun way to spend a couple of minutes, and it’ll keep you humming along long after the song ends.

By herself, lead singer Naomi Cooke is capable enough as a vocalist: She demonstrates enough range to go from the low verses to the higher choruses without losing any power or tone, and she brings a ton of confidence and swagger to the table. The magic really happens, however, when Mulholland and Jennifer Wayne jump in on the harmony parts, as the trio’s voices blend incredibly well and really accentuate the attitude behind the track. Whether with one voice of all of them, however, the trio bring a lot of strength and charisma to the narrator’s role (in fact, the vocals add as much energy as the production itself), and when she says she can do something, not only do you believe her, but you start rooting for her to have the best night ever! I wasn’t sure that Runaway June had a performance like this one in them, but I’m happy to be proven wrong.

The writing, which details a woman’s quest for a fun night on the town in the wake of a breakup, doesn’t seem like the most novel topic at first (for example, consider Lady Antebellum’s “Bartender”). “Buy My Own Drinks,” however, puts an interesting twist by focusing on the solitary aspect of the event: She’s going to dance by herself, arrange her own ride home, and of course, “buy my own drinks.” In fact, she goes as far as turn away Chris Janson’s well-meaning protagonist from “Drunk Girl”:

I can walk my own self to the front door
I can take my own self to bed
I can medicate my own headache
I can be my own boyfriend

If confidence is sexy, than the narrator is easily the most beautiful person in the bar. They are ready to revel in their freedom and don’t want anybody getting in the way of their fun, and through their attention to detail and the complementary vocals and production, they bring the listener along for the ride.

It’s too bad that “Buy My Own Drinks” wasn’t released a few months ago, because this would have been a great song for the summer season. Regardless, the song is a nice combination of lighthearted fun and female empowerment, and is probably the most enjoyable song I’ve heard since Old Dominion’s “Hotel Key.” Radio stations might not jump on this track due to the genre’s apparent allergy to female artists, but it’ll be their loss.

Rating: 7/10. It’s totally worth your time.