Joe Nichols – “It Ain’t No Crime”
Universal South is promoting “It Ain’t No Crime” as “Joe Nichols as you’ve never heard him before.” Actually, it’s exactly what we’ve been hearing from Joe Nichols all along, and it’s becoming tiresome. As much as I like traditionalists, I’m close to writing off Nichols. Joe Nichols is one of the very best vocalists on the radio, and anyone who doubts that he’s a great country singer hasn’t heard Nichols and Rhonda Vincent sing “Cash on the Barrelhead” on the Louvin Brothers tribute album or Nichols’ Grand Ole Opry performance of “Bartender Blues.” I don’t expect Nichols’ own single releases to be songs of commensurate quality, but I’ve been waiting five years for Nichols to release a string of meaningful material and he’s disappointed me.
“Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” and “Size Matters” made me smile, but you can’t build a career on such novelty songs. Nichols can’t sing about heartbreak without resorting to kitsch (“Brokenheartsville,” “She Only Smokes When She Drinks”) and his recent attempt at sentiment (“I’ll Wait For You”) was a pining retread of a three-verse cliché that suffered the ignominy of being performed at Anna Nicole Smith’s funeral.
So “It Ain’t No Crime” is really just more of the same. It sounds good and is performed well but it’ll be forgotten just as soon as it lands in the top ten. Nichols is fast becoming a study in “how to succeed in country music without really trying.”
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