This, on the other hand, is universal enough.
Anthony Easton: There’s a little piano bit above which he just sighs that he can’t burn the whole place down. It’s not angry, and Hilary Scott’s voice, introduced just after that, agrees with him. For some reason the exhaustion and desolation make everything worse.
Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: “Goodbye Town” sounds like a continuation to the sunny stalled-relationship at the centre of “Downtown.” Where the latter had Hilary Scott digging her heels into the ground and rolling her eyes at her other half’s selfishness, “Goodbye” finds Charles Kelly dealing with the aftermath of the relationship. The good girl left for good and now home is a foreign place, the streets of town littered with memories of mistakes and (worse still) triumphs. He leaves, but not before taking in the sights one last time and understanding he can’t “burn the whole place down,” an offer that the minor-key sweetness could never allow. The actual goodbye of the outro is a wispy, lovely thing — a blurry-eyed declaration of moving on with life, Charles Kelly ignoring a heavy heart with a hearty voice and the sound of a running engine.
Alfred Soto: It starts briskly: “Right there is the high school where we met.” Thanks to distant organ and Hillary Scott, this portrait of Nowheresville, U.S.A. has genuine pathos. Just when the power chord bludgeon of a chorus pounds like bad memories, Charles Kelley returns for more rue. A decent flipside to “Downtown.”
Brad Shoup: Sometimes it’s not anthemic. Sometimes it’s just dudes chirping “oh oh whoa,” you know? The bass is particularly well-recorded: delicate and yawing, like an endless fingertapping tic. On the commentary track, Lady A mention Sting and U2 (and then Bono) and yammer about all the “feelings” “emoted,” sounding for all the world like an industrial designer in rapture. My go-to overproduced country song about absence remains Collin Raye’s “I Can Still Feel You”.
Iain Mew: There’s constructing songs with earnest emotion, there’s amping up the musical gestures to the point where the song starts to lose connection in reality and blurs into the bluster, and then there’s going even further and coming right out the other side where they become overwhelming and affecting again. The second half of “Goodbye Town” goes through each of those in turn.
Katherine St Asaph: Two possibilities: he’s a freshman moping about being turkey dropped, or he’s a grown man who hangs out in high school parking lots. Neither offers the pathos this song ploddingly wants.
Edward Okulicz: Charles Kelly doesn’t wear the aimless attempts at vocalising angst over the last 90 seconds of this song as he does a pair skinny jeans. There’s outros, and there’s overstaying your welcome.
Will Adams: This is one of the worst production jobs I’ve heard this year. The first ten seconds are indication enough – that synthetic soprano is flat as can be – but things get worse. The drums overcompensate, barging in with overlong drum fills and leaden eighth-note kicks. Paul Worley piles on several unnecessary layers, one of which might actually be an Apple loop called “U2 Guitar Riff 03.” The result is a dense mix that slogs rather than soars. But “Goodbye Town” crosses over to total failure with its false ending. What could have been a respectfully short song stretches out for another minute and a half of what actually sounds like a section that forgot to be cut. The music plods along as Charles Kelley tosses out first-draft lyrics like he doesn’t give a shit, like the check is already stuffed in his back pocket.