Monday, July 20th, 2015

Jake Owen – Real Life

Where he comes from isn’t all that great…


[Video][Website]
[4.54]

Josh Love: The spoken-word delivery of the verses makes “Real Life” feel resolutely ’90s to me, like something you would’ve heard during that decade from Todd Snider or, if I’m being less charitable, Shawn Mullins. Structurally this isn’t a great song but I’m happy to bump it up a little because it expresses a few really welcome sentiments that, taken together, convey a worldview that much of its audience could probably stand to hear. I’m thinking broadly here, but I don’t think it’s legitimately controversial to state that country’s listening base is largely conservative, and Owen’s we’re-all-in-this-together ethos is anathema to the typical conservative position that everyone’s burden is theirs alone to bear and everyone’s success is theirs alone to reap. In that context, deciding to still tip a Waffle House waitress who was rude is an especially powerful empathetic act, even if Live beat Owen to it by 20 years.
[7]

Alfred Soto: Mixed to sound like late ’90s Sheryl Crow or Sugar Ray, “Real Life” is another entry in Jake Owen’s Barefoot Tales. The talk-singing craze may supersede metal solos in modern country, and Owen’s better at it than Sam Hunt. Credit as usual goes to co-writer Shane McAnally, who can drop references to Waffle Houses and terrible bar bands. Maybe he deserves credit for Owen’s haircut too.
[7]

Edward Okulicz: I might have given this more points if, following “this ain’t no fairytale,” Owen had added “this ain’t no country club either.” Anything unexpected to break up the monotony of every noun in the dictionary being preceded by the word “real” would have helped.
[3]

Patrick St. Michel: A decade spent primarily in massive cities has taught me that life isn’t somehow more “real” just because the number next to “population” goes down and horses outnumber people. “Real Life” is an obvious stab at winning over listeners living outside of coastal mega-opolises, which is nothing new in country music. Unlike a lot of songs glorifying corn fields, though, “Real Life” hits on a lot of details that remind me of all those other years, growing up in a tiny town. You really do just sort of drive around aimlessly, and a lawn truly is something to celebrate. It’s the fact Jake Owen isn’t celebrating it that makes “Real Life” stick around more than most — he mostly seems resigned to the simplicity of his surroundings and tries to make the most of them (they have a “real” band, that also sucks). “That’s just the way that it is,” he sings, and even the chorus sounds more narcotized than celebratory. Owen isn’t glorifying this life, but rather just highlighting what reality really is for a lot of people, and presenting that as OK.
[7]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Apparently reality is supposed to sound like Everclear/That Sellout Butthole Surfers Song/”Detatchable Penis.” It’s true man, this guy who is pretending to be authentic who had his producer do a song with a Pharrell-style 4-skip intro but is talking about hella caucacious stuff told me so. He knows, man. Keep it real!
[2]

Ramzi Awn: You had me at RC. And then lost me at the chorus. But we’ll always have our memories.
[5]

Katherine St Asaph: An anti-country machine song in its own way — its own exceedingly obnoxious way. I’m sure that poor Waffle House waitress appreciates being left out of the town’s “real girls” quota as you leave your reluctant and probably shitty tip. Perhaps I’m taking too seriously a song in which Jake Owen enunciates exactly like Crispin Glover.
[2]

Crystal Leww: Jake Owen strikes me as the dude who feels an inferiority complex about dating girls who live in city who normally date city guys and probably spends most of the date #actually-ing you about everything. 
[3]

Brad Shoup: Another trebly trifle from McAnally and company. Just pick a fucking situation and write it out: stop fucking mailing me postcards!
[2]

Anthony Easton: Ignore the lyrics of this, refuse to think about how dated and out of fashion the narrative is, even stop thinking about Owens chasing his way up the b-list for the last decades, and just listen to the music. It’s a delightful, rollicking effort, with just the right edge of novelty, in a 15th generation post-Buddy Holly kind of way. 
[7]

Thomas Inskeep: Very sing-along-y, made for lyric videos and windows-down radio play. Less bro-country than, oddly, ’90s/’00s alt: this isn’t so far from Fastball, musically, or even Soul Coughing in its talk-singing (not its music). So it sounds a little focus-grouped, but it doesn’t actually suffer for that. Owen is an extremely amiable narrator, and the song’s sing-song-y-ness perversely works to its advantage. Better than it should have any right to be.
[6]

Will Adams: On the spectrum of quality between Wallpaper.’s “Fucking Best Song Everrr” and the theoretical fucking best song ever, this falls more to the former side.
[3]

Jonathan Bradley: It’s the morning after Toby Keith’s frat threw its “Red Solo Cup” party and someone’s put on Blur’s The Great Escape and we’re up to track four already. The sun’s shining real bright and I’ve got a real sore head and I don’t know why but Jake Owen’s really trying to explain Baudrillard to me. If we were in class I’d problematize his reproduction of normative working class Southern praxis by telling him I’m more interested in his blurring of the semantic distinction between intensifiers and adjectival markers of authenticity. Then maybe we’d back-and-forth about whether the talkative redneck stereotype exhausts itself when its intellect is this ill-obscured or whether the latent sentimentality in the invocations of family and faith restore the persona to something really rural. But we’re not, so mostly I just think that the night out in the dive bar listening to the more than half-bad band sounds not half bad, and, dare I say, not half unreal.
[5]

Reader average: [3] (1 vote)

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3 Responses to “Jake Owen – Real Life”

  1. wow, I don’t know Jake Owen from Adam but judging solely from this one song I don’t hear a lot of this stuff some of y’all are reading in to the lyrics. y’all probably feel the same way about my blurb though!

  2. I feel like at least 20% of country songs nowadays are now comparable to Shawn Mullins so I am definitely with you on that!

  3. country songs by dudes anyway