Rodney Atkins – “Invisibly Shaken”

Ben Cisneros | April 23rd, 2008

Rodney Atkins 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.

Thumbs Down

  1. Mike Parker
    April 23, 2008 at 8:06 am

    I’ll buy that review. It’s definitely overly dramatic, but not a horrible song. My question is: How many songs are they going to release from this album? This is number 5, right?

    I enjoyed listening to this album when it came out two years ago, but frankly, it seems so old that it might as well be vinyl.

  2. Matt B.
    April 23, 2008 at 9:52 am


    This is supposedly gonna be the last single but Curb’s never been known to milk an album have they? So there could be another single from the record.

    As far as this song, it’s likely the end to Rodney’s #1 streak.

  3. Mike Parker
    April 23, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Thanks Matt

    I know Rodney and Co. have been shopping songs for at least a year and a half. Hopefully they’ve found some keepers.

  4. Brody Vercher
    April 23, 2008 at 10:47 am

    I’d probably take an “m” or two out of the “hmmmhnnn.” I think it’s more like a “hmhnn.”

  5. Mike W.
    April 23, 2008 at 11:06 am

    It’s ok, but I dont see it going #1 like the past 4 songs Rodney had put out have.

    I think “Man On A Tractor” would have been a better choice for the 5th single.

  6. Brady Vercher
    April 23, 2008 at 11:40 am

    I think I read somewhere that the last person to get give #1s from the same album was Rodney Crowell, so, if that’s the case, this could probably be more of a record type thing rather than milking the album for singles.

    Brody, you missed the chance to throw onomatopoeia out there. You can’t pass up that kinda opportunity.

  7. Matt B.
    April 23, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Yep, Rodney Crowell was the last person to get 5 #1’s off of a record. It might be cool for Rodney Adkins to get to the record as well but, like I said before, I doubt he will.

  8. Rick
    April 23, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Its an interesting ballad and a real cut above the typical pop-rock drivel on mainstream country radio, but the tempo is too slow and the instrumentation too sparse early in the song. If this song does do well on the charts, it will be primarily due to Rodney’s fans giving it a lot of support. As the pop-rock sound has taken over country radio the preferred sound has become peppy, up-tempo songs with pounding drums and screaming electric guitars, and this song is the opposite.

    Rodney has always channeled early Tim McGraw, but on this one he should have channeled Michael Bolton as well since this song deserves a somewhat emotionally overwrought vocal presentation…..

    PS – For those who like moving ballads, I recommend seeking out Shannon Brown’s “I Don’t Move You” from her unreleased first album. A music video was available on YouTube for a short while and then got yanked, which I don’t understand. Shannon really is a fine torch singer……

  9. Hollerin' Ben
    April 23, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    For those who like moving ballads, I recommend seeking out Shannon Brown’s “I Don’t Move You”


  10. Stephen H.
    April 23, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    This is by far my favorite song from “If You’re Going Through Hell” … I don’t know why. I sense a lot of the issues with it that the review addresses, but ever since I bought the album it’s been the song from it that most directly impacts me emotionally.

    Of course, I also was a huge fan of Big & Rich’s “Never Mind Me,” so take it for what it’s worth.

  11. Paula
    April 25, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    I like it. I think it got off to a shaky start vocally (no pun there). Kinda like he had a potato chip or piece of popcorn stuck in his throat. But after that first verse, it smoothed out. And I think it’s a killer song. I think they should’ve done a re-take on that first vocal, but otherwise I love it.

  12. Creek
    May 22, 2008 at 9:05 am

    How bad was he at the award show….uhhhhggg

  13. Sandi
    May 31, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    It’s amazing and so is he!

  14. Bobby
    July 8, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Four big #1’s in a row, and this one still hasn’t hit Top 40 (as of the 7/12 chart at least). Personally, I think that Rodney *always* sings like he has a potato chip stuck in his throat, but I don’t mind his voice at all.

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