Clay Walker – “Where Do I Go From You”
Songwriters: Clint Daniels, Don Cook and Ryan Tyndell
Just call Clay Walker the comeback kid.
High on alliteration but low on probability, that title makes Walker the country music equivalent of Betty White. The nineties mainstay made a surprisingly impressive run up the charts in 2009, pushing “She Won’t Be Lonely Long,” the first single off his similarly titled ninth studio album, all the way into the top five songs on the country charts.
His neotraditional sound fit snugly into the niche reopened by the Zac Brown Band, Chris Young and Easton Corbin, and the song performed higher than any single since 2000’s “The Chain of Love.” And while that kind of streak up and down radio would make for an erratic line graph, his knack for choosing quality singles that complement his smooth twang and charm has remained constant.
Walker’s latest offering “Where Do I Go From You” is no exception, pairing a well-crafted melody with a solid, engaging performance that’s both a throwback to the singer’s heyday and a worthwhile contribution to contemporary country.
The story is at once vague and uncomfortably specific, the pointed pain of the break-up picking up where a general sketch of a storyline leaves off. Its throwaway opening verses are merely a jumping off point, as the singer revs up for a satisfyingly anguished chorus that pushes Walker’s vocals with the same desperation found in the protagonist’s loss. The intensity is so palpable that the “woo!” lyrical exhale toward the song’s end seems to be a release from both the lovers’ loss and the singer’s own vocal push.
Walker has always fully embraced the emotions of the characters in the stories he artfully crafts, running the gamut from the masked, casual denial of “Who Needs You Baby” to the playful skepticism of “Rumor Has It.” As the mandolin and banjo plug away in the background here, Walker manages to be smug, accusatory and just plain give-out all in the same breath – a complete run-through of the rainbow of emotions following a messy romantic departure.
It’s that level of commitment that serves “Where Do I Go From You” best, and continues to buoy Walker onto radio playlists more than 15 years after his debut.
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