Song Review: Russell Dickerson, “Every Little Thing”

This is the dumbest little silly song I’ve heard in quite some time. So why can’t I stop smiling?

Country radio will give a debut #1 to just about anyone these days, but avoiding the “sophomore slump” afterwards has proven to be a tall task for a lot of new artists. Russell Dickerson, however, managed to scale the Billboard airplay mountain once again (albeit slowly) with “Blue Tacoma,” a generic, poorly-produced driving song that he managed to will across the finish line. Dickerson is his own best advocate at this point, and he show it on his third single “Every Little Thing,” a pointless, nonsensical song that is nevertheless the most fun thing I’ve heard on the radio in months.

The production here is sure to make traditionalists cringe when they hear it, but the synergy it has with Dickerson is a huge step up from “Blue Tacoma.” It opens with a drum set borrowed from LANco’s “Born To Love You,” but quickly settles into it main groove of artificial snap percussion and lighthearted whistle/dobro riff, with something (banjo? ukelele? the dobro again?) methodically keeping time in the background. It’s all pretty light and restrained…until a set of heavy electric guitar stabs kick in on the chorus, and a brighter electric guitar jumps to provide some background support and a rocking solo. There is absolutely no way this should all work, and yet the mix manages to create a fun, carefree atmosphere that’s surprisingly catchy, overloading the listener’s happiness glands until they just have to get up and dance along. No, it’s not really romantic, but a playful vibe like this one is the next best thing for a love song, especially when it’s got this much energy behind it. I’m tempted to say the producer just lucked into this one after their subpar performance on “Blue Tacoma,” but hey, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

Apparently Dickerson heard me when I said he “seems to lack that extra something to make me care about…such a overdone topic” in my last review, because he stepped up and brought it this time. He shows off an easy, effortless delivery that goes from high to low with no trouble at all, and his flow is solid from start to finish. The biggest thing, however, is just how much energy and enjoyment Dickerson brings to the table. The man sounds like he’s having an absolute blast on this track, and he just can’t wait to share his good fortune with the audience. Instead of being so serious about how deep his feelings are, he takes the fun, playful route to romance that’s not as prevalent on the radio, but can be super effective when executed properly (see: Midland’s “Make A Little”). In short, Dickerson found that “extra something” on this track, which can only mean good things for him going forward.

The lyrics are…hey, did I mention how great the production and vocals are here? It’s a good thing, because the lyrics are the most bizarre, random collection of sentences I’ve heard all year. The basic gist is that the narrator is head-over-heels in love with their partner, and they’re grasping at ways to explain just how deep their feelings are. However, the comparisons they use range from generic (“endless August summer,” “easy like Sunday morning,” “24-carat goodness”) to just plain weird (he compares the woman to Alabama, Seattle, and Sonoma?), and the choruses are beyond repetitive:

‘Cause I love every little, every little, every little thing about her love
Just a little, just little, just a little ain’t enough
Gotta get a, gotta get a, get a little more of all she does
I’m all hung up
‘Cause I love every little, every little, every little thing about her love

Seriously, did it really take three songwriters to put this together? It’s a good thing Dickerson and the producer laid the good feelings on think enough to make the listener say “Lyrics? Who cares about the lyrics?” because there isn’t a lot to care about here.

“Every Little Thing” is basically Russell Dickerson saying “To heck with it: I feel good, and I’m going to let the world know about it,” and amazingly, that was enough to make it the best of the three recent love songs I’ve reviewed in the past few days. Unlike Garth Brooks and Luke Combs, Dickerson and his producer discard any pretense of this being a serious song about serious emotions, make the song a rollicking good time full of energy and passion, and are better off for doing so. There are a lot of newer acts in country music that I’m not particularly thrilled with, but between this song and “Yours,” I’m surprisingly intrigued about Dickerson’s future potential.

Rating: 7/10. Give this a spin if you’re having a bad day. Heck, do it if you’re having a good day too!

Song Review: Carly Pearce, “Every Little Thing”

Let Carly Pearce’s “Every Little Thing” be a lesson to you all: If you have a dream, take every opportunity to showcase your talent, because you never know which one will finally put you on the map.

Pearce is a Kentucky native who struggled to find success despite a 2012 publishing deal with Sony (it was short-lived) and “an EP available  on iTunes” in 2015 (it’s not there anymore). Instead, the performance credited with Pearce’s breakthrough was her turn as a featured artist on the Josh Abbott Band’s “Wasn’t That Drunk.” The cameo generated some much-needed buzz and attention, and she was able to parlay it into a gig with the Big Machine label group, which recently released her “official” debut single “Every Little Thing.”

The production here is organic and restrained, with the melody carried by the unexpected combination of a piano and a dobro (and some cello-like strings hiding in the backgrounds) and a drum set keeping time without any hint of embellishment. The mix creates a somber and serious atmosphere by relying on darker tones from the instruments, but it occasionally mixes some brighter notes in to reflect both the good and bad memories mentioned in the song. The tempo is kept at a molasses-running-uphill pace, which adds an extra layer of gravity and allows the listener to focus on individual lyrics and notes (although it makes the song feel a bit empty when there aren’t any lyrics to fill the space).

The risk of dialing back the production to this extent is that it puts extra pressure on the vocals to deliver, but thankfully Pearce is more than up to the task. Her voice bears a passing resemblance to Faith Hill, but Pearce seems a bit comfortable in her lower range than Hill does on her recent track “Speak With A Girl,” while also doing a nice job showing off her higher range on the verses. Most importantly, Pearce’s vocal charisma allows her to master the role of the heartbroken narrator in the song, and makes the listener feel her pain with every note.

If the song has a weak point, it resides in the lyrics themselves. Crying over a lost love is probably the most-covered topic in the history of country music, so any song tackling this topic needs to incorporate vivid imagery and raw emotion to make it stand out from the pack. Unfortunately, “Every Little Thing” mostly focuses on the feelings using vague terms (“the high, the hurt, the shine, the sting”), and the specific images it does reference are stale and overdone (wine-flavored kisses, pillow smells, heartbeats, etc.). The lyrics simply do not do enough to move the listener, leaving Pearce to do the emotional heavy-lifting by herself (which, to her credit, she actually does quite well).

Overall, “Every Little Thing” is a solid song that speaks to Carly Pearce’s potential in mainstream country music. While the writing is a little lackluster and pales in comparison to Maren Morris’s recent single “I Could Use A Love Song,” Pearce’s impressive individual performance makes me wonder just how good she could be with some stronger material backing her. She traveled a long road to get to this point, but I’d say it was definitely worth the wait.

Rating: 6/10. It’s definitely worth a listen or three.