Zac Brown Band featuring Jimmy Buffett—”Knee Deep”
Brown’s imitative powers are impressive, and I bet he worked his ass off getting this right, but this is the sort of knockoff Buffett could write in his sleep, and often does, no doubt. So it’s no surprise that Buffett himself sounds a little bored. Then again, maybe that’s just his way of including the bitter edges in his music that Brown leaves out. In his best songs, Buffett’s protagonists are lovable losers who have retired to the life of a beach bum because they’re incapable of functioning in the real world, and their sense of failure hangs over them even in paradise. Brown’s lyrics hint at this, but only because that’s part of every Buffett song and the homage wouldn’t be complete without it, and there’s no sign of it in the music. Buffett, with his slightly distant drawl, puts it back in, at least for one verse.
Trace Adkins—”Just Fishin’”
Father/daughter bonding by the numbers, country style. In other words, sexist (he envisions no future for his daughter other than being chased by boys), condescending (he’s convinced that this moment will be one of her fondest memories without once considering how she might really feel about it), smug and proud to be. Family sentiment is one of the good things about country music, but this is an example of it at it’s worst.
Lupe Fiasco featuring Trey Songz—”Out of My Head”
When Fiasco is concentrating, he can be a daring and original rapper. When he’s running on automatic he’s a skilled but derivative Kanye West clone, an enjoyable echo. This is Fiasco on automatic.
Kelly Price featuring Stokely—”Not My Daddy”
I appreciate the message, but this is such a slavish imitation of The Stylistics, right down to the timbre of Price’s voice, that I find it hard to take seriously. Only at the end, when the producer starts deconstructing the beat, which adds a slightly modern stamp but nothing more, does it stray much from the original model. I don’t mind retro, but this sort of imitation doesn’t get anyone anywhere.
Rodney Atkins—”Take A Back Road”
Even back roads get boring if you drive them too much, and the twists and turns here are far too familiar.