And this has been knocking about for a while, too…
Anthony Easton: Spending the last year with Christians, several of whom are from the south, I keep thinking that the only two ways straight men are allowed to be sentimental are children and god. This song reminded me that I forgot that sentiment is occasionally allowed in the pursuit of a wife — this conflation of holy sweetness and romantic longing fits this exact pattern, and in its lack of a twist forgoes any sentiment that should have been allowed. Being allowed and thinking it’s a good idea to do so are two seperate islands that need to be bridged via critical acumen. Young has none.
Martin Skidmore: He sounds pretty convincing, with some real old-fashioned country emotion in his voice. It’s not a great song, and the music is a bit dreary, including a crappy ’70s soft rock guitar break, but he delivers it well.
Alfred Soto: My favorite part is the pause before Young sings the best line, “I wanna be the kind of man the mirror likes to see.” The burr in his voice signifies his modesty and sincerity; this is one of the rare times in recent months that I bought this kind of drivel. Jason Aldean, meet the man you oughta be.
Michaelangelo Matos: Strong voice, almost archetypal for the genre. Also a little slick, to match the playing — it’s a little too finished, like an over-lacquered coffee table. But I’d be interested in hearing him some more — with a better song than this one, please.
Chuck Eddy: He sings well enough. But outside of the reverse immigration anthem “I’m Going Your Way Jose”, I’ve never heard him communicate any semblance of personality. Seems like the kind of guy who’d be overrated by people who overrate George Strait. And addressing this to God doesn’t help matters.
Katherine St Asaph: There’s something really evasive about this. The speaker’s done a bad, bad thing, but we’re not finding out what because he’s gonna do a God-powered 180. And sure, part of this is so the listener/sinner du jour can slot in himself and his own skeletons (and it’d be “himself”; this particular storyline tends to be coded masculine). But you get the sense that he’s stacking the deck way in his favor. Then you realize that he’s basically asking God for his girlfriend back, and, well, the sinner’s prayer isn’t meant for that.
Jonathan Bogart: The theme song to men’s church retreats all across America this summer. Husbands in graying goatees and too-bright T-shirts will sit in unpadded folding chairs and nod along. Some of them will weep. A week later, wives will write sincere e-mails of thanks to the ministers who put on the retreat. Far be it from me to suggest it doesn’t do its job. I can’t really imagine wanting to hear it in any other context, though.