Monday, January 25th, 2016

Granger Smith – Backroad Song

I was in the winter of my life, and the men I met along the road were my only summer…


Lauren Gilbert: This sounds like the kind of my grandfather would have played in the ’90s, driving past field after field of wheat taking yet another “shortcut” home. Creative it is not — did the world really need another song about driving in a rural area? Really? — but I’ll give it points for execution.  It does capture a feeling of expansiveness, the feel of the road stretching out before you. This is classic country, with few tinges of other genres; the kind of song that is specifically designed to be listened to with the windows down, listening to the Country Countdown, only dust in the rear view. But, really, how many backroads like that are left in 2015?

Thomas Inskeep: Refreshingly, it’s not until the bridge of this slow-climbing country hit when Smith picks up his “girl” and she, of course, “slide[s] into [his] truck” — but apart from that brief sidetrack, “Backroad Song” is a glorification of nothing more than driving out in the middle of nowhere, by one’s self, singing along to the radio, where “freedom is the miles I’m rollin’ on” — and I can damn sure relate to that. I’m of the mind that music pretty much always sounds better coming from a car stereo, loud, windows down, driving without a care in the world and Smith (and his co-writer, Frank Rogers) agrees.

Josh Langhoff: Credit to producer Frank Rogers and whichever studio pros he hired. What sounds at first like an undifferentiated mass of guitars sharpens into focus, through headphones, as three pretty interesting guitar parts: a rock-hard rhythm riff, a series of lead lines, and whatever the guy in my right ear is doing with his little chiming feedback descants. Not unlike how the undifferentiated mass of backroad trees becomes, on reflection, a motley crowd of oaks and chestnuts and palms and juniper and ents, blah blah blah welcome to the forest. But you shouldn’t wear headphones in the truck; and without ’em, you shouldn’t expect this song to be anything more than a radio placeholder.

Alfred Soto: I can’t deny its pleasantness: not the mandolin hook, the drum machine, lines like the one about the windshield covered with dust. I can’t deny its insistence on conformity.

Megan Harrington: Granger Smith is an “On The Verge” artist, entitling him to an unreasonable push on country radio. “Backroad Song” didn’t do much for me at first (and I still resent that it’s Granger Smith I’m hearing once an hour and not Mickey Guyton) but it did eventually insinuate itself in the deeper recesses of my brain. If I put together a mix of everything I listened to during fall 2015, “Backroad Song” would earn its slot through sheer brute force. This may seem a qualified recommendation, and it is, but there’s plenty of radio hits that though catchy or dominant never etched my brain. Is “Backroad Song” slow to warm up or simply inoffensive? I’ll never know, but I’m erring on the side of generosity. 

Katherine St Asaph: More formulas in one place than an algebra textbook, and furthermore ruined when my troll brain conjured up a terrible phantom voice of Weird Al singing “my bathroom song.” But the “My ____ Song” formula is one I like (see also: Heartbeat, Fight, Potential Breakup, Independent Love, My Hit), and here pulls some weight.

Jonathan Bogart: Chiming post-R.E.M. instrumentation, a thin voice that strains to sound folksy, and the most utterly banal lyric I’ve heard in country music for a long time. Which is saying something. He’d better be cute, because otherwise what’s the point?

Anthony Easton: Smith created an entire persona — Earl Dribbles Jr, funnier than it should be — to make fun of this kind of nonsense. His voice just sounds tired in an effort to work through something that he used to so assuredly make fun of. 

Danilo Bortoli: Smith’s lyricism is a literal description of what he sees in the rearview mirror à la Springsteen, yet the song lacks the catharsis to pull off something other than simple didacticism.

Brad Shoup: The yearning of rural freedom, finally so abstracted that there’s nearly no song getting in its way. Smith sounds the most distant when he invokes his work, which makes sense: it’s done and speaking for itself.

Reader average: [2] (3 votes)

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3 Responses to “Granger Smith – Backroad Song”

  1. if anyone was wondering, yes, I did forget it’s now 2016 while writing that blurb. #goodatthings

  2. Eh, it’s when it was released

  3. (really nice writing, too!)