Yeah, well, at least my Mac is newer than that one…
Jessica Popper: It may be 10 years since Jaron Lowenstein last had a hit single (with his twin brother in the duo Evan and Jaron) but his musical style has hardly changed at all. He even has the same hairstyle and dress sense, just with a slightly older face. “Pray For You” is a very generic example of country-pop, but I like it nonetheless. It’s a country-tinged version of something Train (before they thought they were Jason Mraz) or Gavin Degraw might do, and I’m sure I’m in an extreme minority here but I have a soft spot for this sort of thing.
Hillary Brown: Not only clever in the twist from the intro but also bearing a nicely constructed melody, a good rhyme scheme, a fine and simple vocal performance, and a sense of humor throughout. It’s not tremendously country as far as country goes, but that should help it succeed, if anything.
Chuck Eddy: This sneakily subverts the churchy sanctimony it initially hints at, but something about Jaron’s John Mayerish coffee-house tone makes it comes off detached, a little snarky, like he’s play-acting — he’s not as engaged in his vengeance as, say, Lee Ann Womack in 1998’s “I’ll Think Of A Reason Later,” which is at least as funny and playful (“She may be an angel who spends all winter/Bringin’ the homeless blankets and dinner/A regular Nobel Peace Prize winner/But I really hate her.”) Still, there’s undeniably wit here. And country-music religion sure deserves it.
Frank Kogan: Most of the gags here were old when movies were still called photoplays, but I laugh anyway, any send-up of country piety being a welcome relief, especially when delivered with perfect pseudo-sensitive country singer-songwriter sincerity. The voice might even have the semi-raw chops to sound good on actual sincerity. I look forward to more from this newbie.
John Seroff: I guess this is meant to be a clever and edgy send-up of holier-than-thou country posturing, but Jaron just comes off like some hick dick wishing severe injury on his ex. The music is spectacularly boring and the concept wears thin halfway through the first spin.
Martin Skidmore: This is reasonably clever and amusing, but the simple-minded music is dreary and his smooth singing is without much personality or any edge.
Iain Mew: Maybe it’s lack of familiarity with the genre or anyone involved, but this had me totally sold on it being preachy and earnest before the twist, which obviously made the spite and bitterness that followed all the more enjoyable. It could definitely do with some more wishes as inventive as the “best friend”/”his and hers tattoos” one (when you’ve already got this silly you should really go all out) but still, fun stuff. Love the brass bit that wanders in from nowhere too.
Michaelangelo Matos: He’s far too on the nose for this to have any staying power whatsoever. So in that sense, I’m overrating it slightly. But I do kind of enjoy its smilin’ bitchery, even if by the end I’m glad I don’t actually know the guy.
Anthony Easton: I know it’s a joke, and I am pretty appreciative of someone calling out the piety of false country prophets — and anything that plays off of that should be cool. And if I didn’t spend my morning doing homework, then this would be a 7 or so, with the oompahesque middle, and his smooth solid voice, but the blasphemy gets me, which is weird for me to admit, but the concept of praying for someone’s death, esp. post-Obama, esp. in that accent… call me humourless, but it squicks me.
Jonathan Bogart: Weird Al did it better, and not so misogynistically, in “One More Minute.”
Katherine St Asaph: This is a glorious lyric, ripping into years of CCM crud with vicious detail. The flowerpot line alone makes up for at least five other songs. But a song like this can’t work unless the singer clearly relishes every misfortune that befalls his enemy. Jaron sings it like he’s reading the words off the church program a second behind the beat, and the backing is limp. Is it too soon for a cover?