Jamie O’Neal – “Soldier Coming Home”
When I was assigned Jamie O’Neal’s newest single “Soldier Comin’ Home” I mentally groaned. Another piece of crap written by a bunch of cliché monkeys filling in the blanks on their Patriotic Country Song Mad Lib. It seems that quality soldier songs like “Dress Blues” or “‘Til the Last Shot’s Fired” are few and far between these days, so my expectations were low, to say the least.
To my surprise, this song isn’t about war at all. Instead, O’Neal, with co-writers Roxie Dean (“When I Think About Angels”) and Patricia Ann Murphy, takes a scene that would claim center stage in other songs–a returning soldier joyfully reuniting with his wife–and unashamedly makes it all about her. No social or political commentary here, just the personal issue of a failing relationship. Caught up in the everyday hassle of work and life, neither partner treats the other “Like you were a soldier comin’ home/Like I counted the nights you were gone/Like each moment together is more precious than ever/’Cause you’re safe inside of my arms.”
Witnessing the soldier’s homecoming then becomes the impetus needed to make a personal change and begin loving one’s significant other as though he’s returning from a war zone on a daily basis.
O’Neal’s last two singles, “God Don’t Make Mistakes” and “Like a Woman” haven’t fared so well on the charts, barely breaking the Top 50. “Soldier Comin’ Home” may be her slump-breaker: it lacks the infectious, poppy fun of “When I Think About Angels” and is far from the feel good, family-friendly hit “Somebody’s Hero,” but O’Neal’s soulful delivery and catchy chorus, in addition to the song’s carpe diem message, should appeal to listeners. Now if only her label would quit postponing the release of new album Like a Woman, O’Neal might stand a chance at reclaiming her old spot as America’s Second Favorite Australian-born Country Singer.
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