When I heard that Bull Shiter aka Blake Shelton had a new single out, “Neon Light” from his upcoming album “Bringing Back The Sunshine,” ( September 30th) I was intrigued. Starting out the song with a light Hip Hop beat didn’t really draw me into the song, but the lyrics (written by Andrew Dorff, Mark Irwin and Josh Kear – a trio who had written hit-songs for other artists before) had a lovely retro feel – something I haven’t heard quite in a while coming out of Trashville. The lyrics actually do tell a story and in the second verse actually get quite mean – even though the two last lines with the three word repetitive are contemporary stupid as the mentioned opening beat is required in 2014:
“I take a shot of I don’t care
what you’re doing now
Chase that one with a cold screw you
When that’s done I just might wash it down with a big pitcher of someone new
That blonde, blonde, blonde at the bar, bar, bar
See if she wants to try an unbreak my heart, heart, heart”
The banjo, the slight guitar work, Shelton’s vocal range during the choruses also speak for this single. The production by Scott Hendricks unfortunately does not. Even though there is cool, bluesy overtone to it, it’s completely over-produced and over-compressed with several unnecessary layers, which lower the song almost past mediocracy.
But then once again, Blake simply couldn’t shut up and the BS started flowing when he told Rolling Stone Country that “The song, the melody, the chorus is so George Jones or George Strait. It really is.”
Nope, it’s not, even though he also claimed to know the history of country music: “Of course, I’m always going to have the haters and critics out there that say it’s not. But then, kiss my ass! I know more about those records than a lot of people.”
Maybe he does to a certain degree, but then he would have had a good chance on being the leader to move some of the music back to its more traditional roots. A song like this, with a late 80’s early 90s feel to it would have sounded wonderfully. And producer Scott Hendricks should have known better. As the producer (with Keith Stegall) he not only engineered Alan Jackson’s debut album “Here In The Real World” which contained the lovely Honky Tonk anthem “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow” but also another ode to the legendary bar signs, in Brooks & Dunn’s “Neon Moon” from their album “Brand New Man.”
Even the James Stroud produced, two year old “Neon” by Chris Young, written by Texan master-songwriter Shane McAnally with Josh Osborne and Trevor Rosen which reached #23 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs sounds with it’s leading steel guitar and fiddle more country as Blake’s last outing. And if you want it really traditional just listen to Austin favorite Wayne “The Train” Hancock and his little ditty “Thunderstorms & Neon Lights” with the late great twangmaster Paul Skelton on guitar.
A. Michael Uhlmann: