Kix Brooks — “New to This Town”
After splitting from one of country’s most successful partnerships of all time, Ronnie Dunn and Kix Brooks are each going through something of a rebuilding process artistically, at radio and with fans as they establish themselves as solo artists.
But after selling millions and millions of records, how hard can it be?
In a different musical and cultural climate with changing genre tastes and a new breed of superstars, harder than one might think. Even with his familiar, stellar voice and with one of last year’s most outstanding singles, Dunn has had a tough time breaking through as a solo artist – and with something of a blank slate, Brooks may actually have the easier road to go. Kristian Bush aside, that role as country’s most popular second-fiddle offers him a chance to win fans over with his solo singing and songwriting.
Even his new single’s title, “New to This Town,” seems to reflect the rebirth of a singer better known as a showman. It also helps that his first solo offering to radio since 1989’s “Sacred Ground” is an original take on the small-town love narrative, reminiscent of Joe Diffie’s “Always Something” in both form and function.
Little details in its lyrics – the waitress’ name, phrases like “cool little spot” and stoplight memories – fill in depth and color where Brooks’ vocals stretch thin. Just as the song is a reminder of how hard it is to hide in a small town, there’s no one to blend with here; instead, Brooks must draw every bit of grit and dust out of a performance reminiscent of a harder-living David Nail.
The tune’s thumping intro offers listeners some time to warm up to that Dunn-less Brooks, who hasn’t taken the lead since 1999′s “South of Santa Fe” despite producing catalog highlights such as the number one single “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone,” “Lost and Found,” and guilty pleasure “Rock My World (Little Country Girl).” Here, the production sounds comfortingly familiar to his former duo’s more rocking hits, with a little help from Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh’s punchy guitar licks that weep and sear right along with the protagonist.
“New to This Town” marks a triumphant return for Brooks as a solo artist, thematically and symbolically taking both its story’s lost lover and the singer himself from one chapter to the next.
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