Kix Brooks — “New to This Town”

Karlie Justus Marlowe | April 5th, 2012

kixbrooksSongwriters: Kix Brooks, Marv Green and Terry McBride

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.

Thumbs Up

  1. Ben Foster
    April 5, 2012 at 9:38 am

    I’m liking this one so far. It has an interesting hook concept. I’ll be interested to see how Brooks and Dunn’s respective solo careers shape up from here.

  2. Dan Milliken
    April 5, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Ugh, I thought I was being all cool and ‘first’ by reviewing this today! And this review is excellent! You’ve ruined everything, Karlie!!

  3. bll
    April 5, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    I’ve always liked Kix’s voice better than Ronnie’s, so I find this one growing on me.

  4. Karlie
    April 5, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    @Dan – ruining everything a special talent I’m rather proud of! ;-)

    I was surprised at how much I liked this – I’ve never been a fan of his voice, so I think it especially speaks to the strong material.

  5. luckyoldsun
    April 5, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    If this goes top-5, Ronnie Dunn will climb to the roof of the Ryman. If it goes #1, he’ll jump.

  6. Rick
    April 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    I can’t even listen to this song. The plodding beat and pounding drums, the bombastic production, the droning vocals, this song truly has it all, well everything that makes AirHead Country so mediocre. This track could have great lyrics and I wouldn’t even care as the sonic package they are wrapped in is so unappealing. I don’t expect Top 40 country radio to pay much attention to this single, and in this case that is not such a bad thing.

    Step aside Kix and let talented young’uns like Eden’s Edge send you back into retirement at the winery…

  7. idlewildsouth
    April 6, 2012 at 12:04 am

    I’ve always enjoyed his voice myself, and typically enjoyed the songs he has sung lead on.

    I like the idea for this song. I enjoy how they executed it, but I also enjoy the idea of someone new to a town seeing it in such a different light. Growing up in Nashville, it’s always been interesting seeing people move here and be really excited.

  8. Bobby Peacock
    April 6, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    I believe that’s JOE Walsh, not Jim. :D

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