Rodney Atkins – “Invisibly Shaken”
Songwriters: Rodney Atkins and Bill Kirsch
Rodney Atkins’ latest single from his blockbuster album If You’re Going Through Hell is the somber piano ballad “Invisibly Shaken,” which Atkins co-wrote with Bill Kirsch. It tells the tale of a guy who is pretending to be ok with a breakup, but is in fact, “invisibly shaken, quietly breaking, and desperately taking one breath at a time“.
For such a conventional lyric, the song is a strange one. It has a weird melody and the whole first verse is sung to only a piano. Stylistically, I’d call it sparse melodrama. It has the “faux-broadway, sensitive ballad” feel that South Park uses when making fun of a Les Mis style musical; incredibly dramatic and cloying, and full of suspense and swelling sentiment, but without any sense of artistic significance.
The lyric isn’t really anything to speak of. It sketches the basic idea of the song and doesn’t do much else. In fact, it has plenty of conceptual problems that I could get into if it were worth it, but it’s not because the lyric isn’t what the song is trying to sell. The main thing here is that this song gives Atkins the opportunity to croon in a super-sensitive style for the ladies.
As far as that stuff goes, he does a good job. He pretty much has the “modern mainstream Nashville” vocal nailed, all growling scoops, sensitive trail-offs, and when the spirit is truly moving, the occasional “Baby!” holler–this one finds him pulling out all the stops. My favorite moment of the vocal comes at the very end of the song; after the last, drawn-out, incredibly vulnerable “cause I’m invisibly shaken,” Atkins softly moans “hmmmhnnn.” Pointless, naked, shameless, sensitivity is the whole point of this exercise, and ending the track with a soft moan is the perfect illustration of that.
All and all it’s the kind of tune that’ll hang around for a while, and then fade into obscurity as just another silly, syrupy, ballad with absolutely nothing to contribute. It’s not horribly offensive to the ears, and it’s too easily dismissed to be discouraging to the spirit, so I won’t begrudge it’s success too much. However, there isn’t enough that’s worthwhile to give it a thumbs up.
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