Where words leave off, music begins. Music can change the world and even in this time of Coronavirus crisis, the world is standing together. Music has been more than just a sweet melody that waves through our vines. It is the force in the universe that gives us hope and tells us tomorrow will be a better day and all our pain will go fade away. Don’t forget to put those headphones on and listen to your favorite music every now and then. Here is the latest weekly roundup of ListenOnRepeat’s new reviews for June 08 – June 14, 2020.
Brantley Gilbert – Hard Days
“Hard Days” starts off in about as country away as you could get. The opening lyrics speak about love, about God, about the song “Amazing Grace” and about the blood sweat and tears that go into connecting to all three things. As it transpires, this isn’t just a song that espouses the virtues of religion, love, and hard days work (like a lot of other country hits) … instead, it concerns itself with the road of personal struggle that everyone must take if they want to find themselves in an enlightened, happier place one day in the future.
Brantley Gilbert is a country singer and songwriter from Jefferson, Georgia, and he is perhaps best known for penning and performing the track “My Kind of Party,” which was taken to the top of the charts by another country music star, Jason Aldean. Both this song and “My Kind of Party” speak of life in the Southern states, and include all the iconography you would expect: horses, bars, pretty girls, God, redemption, the USA. But whereas that smash hit rested on a high-voltage rock beat and a jagged electric guitar, this one is more laid back, and its meaning is stretched between slower riffs along with a more languorous tempo.
“There are certain songs that just hit you in the gut, this is one of them” … reads one of the top comments on his newly released lyric video. Indeed, many of Brantley’s fans are able to relate to the idea of “hard days” not being the be-all-and-end-all, but nevertheless marking significant obstacles along the road to peace and prosperity with God. The images used feature Brantley alongside firemen and the army in a message of solidarity to the servicemen and women that have been receiving wave upon wave of respect in recent months.
Natti Natasha – Que Mal Te Fue [Official Video]
Natti Natasha is a Dominican singer who spent her lockdown in Puerto – Rico. There, she experienced a surge of creativity, releasing home-made tracks to her fans via social media. But when she saw the response to “Que Mal Te Fue,” she decided that audio wasn’t enough: “maybe this is what people want … they want a song where they can feel positive.”
So, she decided to turn her hit into an iPhone video and release it on all platforms. It has since garnered millions and millions of views in just a couple of days and it isn’t hard to see why – the track combines relatable lyrics with an original, infectious chorus.
Filming on the iPhone is now as viable a technique as any. This is the first time that Natti has directed and shot her own music video, and there is a lot of evidence to suggest that her fans like it just as much like the high production value set-pieces they are used to. Set at a swimming pool, the shots combine a mixture of color and bubble filters, featuring Natti singing and swimming and not much else. But the simplicity works very well.
“Que Mal Te Fue” recounts a relationship that is plagued with infidelity. Translated as “You Did Badly,” it speaks of a philandering boyfriend who constantly goes after different women before coming back and begging to reconnect. As themes go, there aren’t many that are more universal than this particular narrative.
During the lockdown, Natti has been working with charities besides her songwriting, delivering meals to families in the Dominican Republic, and working to stay in contact with her many fans across the world, often seeking to comfort them through the hardship. Lately, she has also been outspoken about the riots in America and the death of George Floyd, imploring people to educate themselves and to listen when it comes to race issues.
Trace Adkins – Mind On Fishin’ (Official Video)
Country singer-songwriter Trace Adkins has just released his new single “Mind on Fishin'” on Verge Records. The Country bop was co-written by Aaron Raitiere and Wynn Varble and it was produced by Bart Butler.
The song has a pastoral vibe, reminiscent of the fields, rivers, and wildlife of Louisiana, the place that Adkins calls home. The scenes we see on the screen during the official video for “Mind on Fishin’ also offer a nostalgic edge, considering the confinement that many people are still experiencing around the world. Country music has been at the forefront of evoking ideas of the outside during this strange time, and this song marks the latest addition to a recent country cannon that has offered people a glimpse of a brighter future, often by looking back to happier times.
The lyrics in the track are interesting in the way they equate God with the practice of fishing. Adkins treats his hobby like a Sunday sermon, where it is just him on the lake, with his rod, the fish snapping, and the man “upstairs.” Here is where Adkins feels most at peace with the world and can connect to the heavens while scooping up a tasty bite amongst nature.
Visually, the video follows a chronological format. It is Sunday morning, and while the crowds pile into church Adkins piles his rods into a truck and heads down to a local lake. As they hold their hands up in reverence, Adkins looks up to the sky and partakes in worship that is all his own.
With a cameo from crooner T. Graham Brown, “Mind on Fishin'” is a light-hearted, fun, and altogether spirited addition to the country airways during this trying time, especially given the Christian leaning of Adkin’s fans.
Diplo Presents: Thomas Wesley – Hometown (ft. Zac Brown & Danielle Bradbery) (Official Audio)
With a bold mix of country, rap, pop, and EDM, the producer Diplo, who was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, is offering a new album that seeks to unite his country by bridging genres and cultures together. While some have called the hybridization confused, Diplo has promised that Thomas Wesley Chapter 1: Snake Oil (so-called after his birth name), will bring forth a musical consensus that reflects the right kind of America. It seeks to rejuvenate the country by placing it within a prism of EDM that is just a little too slow to properly dance. Mood music, some have called it, and though that might seem pejorative at first, there are few better than Diplo and conjuring the right kind of vibes, those that are geared towards mass-appeal, and the good times that many have been unable to experience during this strange period of confinement.
“Hometown” features Zac Brown, the leader of his own country-rock band out of Atlanta, Georgia, and Danielle Bradbery, the Texan singer who won the 2013 edition of The Voice. Their voices combine over the chorus, and an echo-y tone is utilized to good effect. Underneath, languid synths cushion an acoustic guitar, demonstrating that the country roots Diplo talk about marry well with the production format he made his name by.
The lyrics themselves speak of an evocative hometown scene. In the track both singers take on the role of tour guide, referencing the restaurants they used to eat at, the places they hung out, and the rooftops they smoked on. All of this is underpinned by a central idea: you can’t know where you are unless you know where you came from. “Hometown” takes this one step further – suggesting that others will find it difficult to really get to know you unless they see where you started your life, in those formative and distant years gone by.
TWICE “MORE & MORE” M/V
Fans of Twice have been waiting for this one. It has been a while since their last release and this new EP, which includes seven brand new tracks, has generated the buzz you’d expect from a considerable break. Twice are in the top 5On pretty much every chart right now, and they are proving that there are more big players in the K-pop world than BlackPink and BTS, something that is becoming increasingly clear.
“More & More” is the title track for this new project and it is a vocal rollercoaster that goes through several changes throughout the verses. We get a techno bridge, and a pounding, ecstatic chorus. As in many K-pop hits, there are rap sections included and the dance/ performance element is of central importance. Of all their 9 mini albums, this one is being rated highly. Part of the reason for that is that the members of Twice have been taking a more active role in the writing and production of the music. The K-pop music machine is large and imposing, so it is good to see a story about artists reclaiming control and the music being all the better for it.
The video, like any K-pop project worth its salt, is a feast for the senses. We begin in some kind of magical grotto that looks unreal and glittering. Then leopards enter the fray, and we begin a bizarre biblical scene – a snake slinks up the branch of a tree and band members reach for the ripe apples that dangle invitingly, and dangerously, from magical trees. As the chorus builds and the repetition of the word “more” comes in, the screen changes color, and the word “more” bursts in the forbidden fruit. It’s a track about temptation and an inability to curb desires.
Watch TWICE “MORE & MORE” M/V
John Prine – “I Remember Everything”
The world lost John Prine in April 2020 from complications associated with Covid-19. For those that knew him, it represented the passing of a songwriting icon. For those that didn’t, it offered the opportunity to connect with one of the 20th Century’s most-loved, and perhaps most elusive musicians. Indeed, the guitarist, singer, composer, and performer didn’t enjoy a popularity that matched his talent. In music circles, he was, of course, hugely respected, but he never attained the status of some of the many musicians that he directly influenced: James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Neil Young … the list goes on and on.
Prine was treasured for his ability to weave complex and touching ideas into simple, powerful, minimalist country arrangements. What sets his songs apart was the sheer depth that they offered, often plunging deep into his past, or future desires, and revealing universal truths in the process. This is what endeared him to so many, and what other songwriters admired as an ability that put him in a special league.
This posthumous release of “I Remember Everything” has been met with the enthusiasm you’d expect, causing listeners to reflect on his staggering career once more, as well as to enjoy one final song. It is the final piece, written by Prine and his longtime collaborator Pat McLaughlin, and it functions as a love letter to his friends and family. As such, it seems like the perfect bittersweet note to end on.
One top comment reads: “If John could have picked his last recorded song I think this would have been his choice. A love song to his family and friends… and hopefully to his fans a bit.”