Album Review: 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. 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.
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