Album Review: Chris Cagle – My Life’s Been A Country Song

Brady Vercher | February 29th, 2008

Chris Cagle - My Life Chris Cagle’s fourth studio album, My Life’s Been A Country Song, is his first that doesn’t feature any of his own songs. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean those included are any better–as the songs from his own pen are at least on par if not superior. Apparently, Cagle and producer Scott Hendricks listened to over 4,200 songs to come up with this collection of eleven and I’m finding it incredibly hard to believe that this is the selection that was chosen from a pool that large and I have to wonder exactly what the criteria for choosing songs actually was.

The lead single, “What Kinda Gone,” Cagle’s most successful since “Chicks Dig It” in 2003, registers in slot number one. It’s an enjoyable song if you don’t pay too much attention, but there’s not a whole lot of room for interpretation when it comes to the meaning of gone without coming across as completely oblivious. “It’s Good To Be Back” pops up a couple spots down the list and kicks the pace into top gear with a few stutter driven lines, but it doesn’t have anything to offer in the way of actual meaning.

When you consider the no holds barred personality that permeates Cagle’s interviews and the news articles about a guy who punched a fan’s boyfriend and then juxtapose that persona with the fluffy, high on something songs like “I Don’t Want To Live” and “If It Isn’t One Thing,” it’s kinda sickening to see how a capable artist like Cagle can be neutered into recording such forumulaic fluff. Radio is really the only reason songs like that are recorded–they don’t have any longevity and won’t be remembered in the grand scheme of things, so why not try to score a hit, get a little name recognition, and hopefully rake in a few bucks. He might as well carry a fairy wand and dance around in a little pink tutu while he’s at it. Ultimately, the majority of the songs on the album end up relying more on melody and instrumentation to carry them, while the lyrics are left wanting and the performances lack conviction.

The three closing tracks are among the most listenable on the album. “My Heart Move On,” a song about moving on from a relationship, is enjoyable if only for the galloping beat and soaring guitar work that pulls you in. Cagle delivers a decent country performance on the title track that goes on to name-check too many artists, and ends with a song called “Change Me,” in which he performs with the most conviction on the album.

The album isn’t nearly as terrible as I make it sound–if you’re just looking for something to play in the background, but that seems to be all it aims for. My Life’s Been A Country Song is your standard filler fodder with some radio fodder and a whole bunch of cheap whoops and hollers, yeahs, talking, and incredibly annoying na na na naas. The only thing missing are the boo boos and the hoo hoos… umm… nevermind.

2 Stars

2 Pings

  1. [...] Chris Cagle - My Life’s Been A Country Song Chris Cagle's fourth studio album, My Life's Been A Country Song, is his first that doesn't feature any of his own songs. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean those included are any better--as the songs from his own pen are at least on par if not superior. The album isn't nearly as terrible as I make it sound--if you're just looking for something to play in the background, but that seems to be all it aims for. My Life's Been A Country Song is your standard filler fodder with some radio fodder and a whole bunch of cheap whoops and hollers, yeahs, talking, and incredibly annoying na na na naas. The only thing missing are the boo boos and the hoo hoos
  2. [...] the end, with the same caveat about too much name-checking. Name-checking is a pet peeve of mine. (link) [noun [...]
  1. Matt B.
    February 29, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Seems like we’re in agreement for the most part on this record.

  2. Brady Vercher
    February 29, 2008 at 9:28 am

    Well, what can I say other than great minds must think a like. Heh, naw, but I wanted to like the album and have liked a lot of his stuff in the past, but this album was pretty much fluff.

  3. Chris N.
    February 29, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Every time an artist talks about how they listened to thousands of songs before settling on the ones that made the album, you can bet the album is going to be bland (see: Flatts, Rascal). I don’t know why that is.

    That said, I like this record a little better than some of his previous stuff.

  4. Brady Vercher
    February 29, 2008 at 9:38 am

    Chris N, just out of curiosity, which songs did you enjoy the most on the album?

  5. Chris N.
    February 29, 2008 at 9:50 am

    I would actually single out the same three tracks at the end, with the same caveat about too much name-checking. Name-checking is a pet peeve of mine.

    The only track I find really disagreeable is “Little Sundress,” just because I’ve heard a few too many songs like that lately.

  6. Leeann
    February 29, 2008 at 11:25 am

    I, too, wanted to like this CD. However, I pretty much feel the same way. I’ve only listened to it once though. I liked the title track, but had trouble with so much name dropping as well. I don’t mind name dropping as a principle, but I don’t think it quite worked here. I especially thought the reference to Tim McGraw’s “I Like It, I love It” was lame. Some of the songs had too many want-to-be rock solos, in my opinion.

  7. Brady Vercher
    February 29, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Chris, get ready for some more name-checking on radio. Tim McGraw and Heidi Newfield both have name dropping songs coming out, and Lord help us if Tim McGraw gets around to recording “Southern Voice.”

    Leeann, I gotta agree with you about the solos.

  8. Chris N.
    February 29, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    I’ll third the solos sentiment. Where have all the chicken-pickers gone?

  9. Jordan Stacey
    February 29, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    I, Like a lot of you was hoping to like this album. But after waiting for this one for as long as I did, I have to say it’s a huge disappointment. The last three songs are the only ones worth listening to, though Little Sundress may be good, but it’s just too similar.

  10. Mike
    February 29, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    I also gave it a not so great review a few days ago and caught a bunch of crap from Chris Cagle fans from it. I don’t see how anyone could listen to this and think it is a great album.

  11. CRAIG R.
    March 3, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    I think the problem with Chris Cagle is that he has no idea who he is as a singer. He wants to be macho and tender- that confuses him- and then he picks bad songs for an average voice. That is not only his problem butthe problem with many male singers during the past fifteen years. Cash, Nelson, Jennings, the Hag, and George Jones all used their voices to create songs about manly, complex,and interesting men. Cagle and his group have to look the part so much that music always comes in second or third to the image. Now I know a great many girls and women think he is hot-So do I! But we should demand more out of a country singer than image-Country is great because it has a history of never settling for the shine. Cagle is all shine.

  12. Heather
    March 5, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    First let me say — I have to agree with this review and comments posted. I liked selections on his album Anywhere better. I think we should expect more from him on this fourth album. I am just so perplexed why these artists like Chris Cagle and Jason Aldean are picking fluffy songs and not going for deeper songs or more rocking songs. Especially when you here their interviews and see their performance styles. I enjoy albums so much better when the artist does the writing like LeAnn Rimes or Gretchen Wilson.

  13. Stacey
    April 11, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    I mostly agree. There is a few good songs, mine being “What kind of gone”, “Change me”, and “If it isn’t one thing”. “No love songs” is interesting but gets bland. All in all, nothing special.

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