Monday, January 13th, 2020

Jon Pardi – Heartache Medication

Tip your blurbers, folks…


Joshua Minsoo Kim: Familiar but decent neo-traditional country with enough of the fixings to make the target market happy. While Pardi’s voice always makes his songs worth a listen, the real joy here is in the chorus: you get a sense that he loves singing. Any singer can serve a pretty melody, but an entertainer can do something more nuanced: he’ll transfer the joy in performance right to the listener. The way the chorus’s topline keeps moving up and down, keeps going and going and going… Pardi lives to please, I’ll give him this one.

Alfred Soto: A decent simulacrum of the kind of male country jockstrap vocalizing that Nashville fans over forty say they miss, “Heartache Medication” gets by on the thud of its drums, impressively coiled rhythm guitar, and Jon Pardi himself. Before you accuse it of repeating the past, keep in mind: repeating the past is one of country’s lode stars. “One of,” anyway, which means we needn’t linger either.

Brad Shoup: “Bartender knows my name but I don’t mind” is a startling detail. Where are the songs about the fraught negotiation between customer and server? This one ain’t it. Between Pardi’s shallow-lung delivery and the lyrical choices (“Here I go again/I’m drinkin’ one/I’m drinkin’ ten” would work with hard-bitten pipes, but the text we get makes drinking sound like sensible self-care.) As usual, only the steel sounds like it wants barplay, or knows what pain is.

Thomas Inskeep: I love how this song refers to alcohol as “heartache medication” — that’s such smart wordplay I’m amazed it’s never before been done quite this way. Pardi’s a stone traditionalist country singer, reminiscent of Randy Travis in the mid to late ’80s, and he’s just what the format needs right now. Everything about this, including the slide guitar on the bridge, works like a charm, and I love it fiercely.

Jonathan Bradley: Pardi’s mind is on the medication; I suspect even without the heartache he’d be posted up at this exact same bar having just as good a time. The accompanying fiddle helps with that, adding zest to a track that might be a bit aimless and a bit forgettable without it. And sure, drinking sessions can be aimless and forgettable, but they’re never not going to be improved by a drinking song, and this one goes down easy.

Ryo Miyauchi: It’s still hard to pinpoint which thing about the well-worn country-music trope of alcohol consumption that doesn’t sit quite right: the quantity and frequency in which the protagonists always drink or the delight the singer tends to take in narrating their habits. Pardi’s case lean more of the latter with him giving a cute little name to those pain-relievers as well as the bonus prize he tacks on to his bar visits. The song tries to be innocent fun for the most part, dusting off stress and heartbreak as banal concerns the best it can, but it’s still not enough for me to ignore the reasons why he’s ordering shots to begin with.

Oliver Maier: Rushes through the verses as if it has a hook worth getting excited about. Bonus points for the guitar solo, but I would prefer if this just turned into the peppy Whitesnake cover it keeps almost being.

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