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After ‘Southern Comfort Zone’ and ‘Beat This Summer’, both big hits both in the charts and with fans, and an album full of amazing songs, I was really excited to hear the new single. I expected ‘Outstanding In Our Field’, with Dierks Bentley and Hunter Hayes, and I’m still convinced that will be a single at some point, but the announcement of ‘I Can’t Change The World’. It’s a good song, don’t get me wrong, and plenty of people have picked it out as their favorite on the record, but despite the subject matter it just doesn’t resonate with me the way it should.
Maybe I’m a defective human being or something because this has happened before, but there is a whole world of songs from that album I would love to see dusted off and polished up and thrown out onto the radio. ‘I Can’t Change The World’ is a ballad, of which there are excellent ones in abundance on ‘Wheelhouse’, but perhaps it’s appealing to people because of its approach. The only thing I can deduce from its reason for standing out is how unpolished it is for a single. Many of the notes are high and reaching the ends of Brad’s range, yet he is not vocally edited in the slightest and what results is a surprisingly raw performance that contrasts against much of the rest of the album. What helps this effect is that the song is also instrumentally stripped back, based around a few acoustic guitars noodling away and the odd few notes from electric, with limited gentle percussion.
It does develop, the chorus and second verse introducing fiddle, a little banjo, and more of a substantial drum beat. However, the focus is always on Brad’s voice and supporting it through its melodic twists and turns. Yet, they have created a “live” sound and atmosphere despite the song’s development, and this makes it come across more intimate and personal. Brad has really pushed the boat out vocally, with plenty of interesting licks on the guitar (plus solo, naturally), and the lyrics are as heartfelt as his vocal expression. Explaining that he can’t change how harsh and cruel the world is, but the girl in question should let him in because he could change her world, give her love and allow her to trust. I suspect a few people have already proposed to this.
So maybe you’re confused as to why this review has been written so positively with a negative cloud hanging over. Simple answer is: I don’t know, and I haven’t had coffee yet this morning. It’s well-written and well-produced, and perhaps on other albums it would stand out more. It’s certainly grown on me after many, many listens (album on repeat all summer, duh). I just feel Brad’s not telling the world enough about this album, he’s not showing them everything he should be. But then maybe this rawness will do that.
I’m cautious as to how it will do on the charts too, but fingers crossed. I want about a billion singles released from ‘Wheelhouse’ so it best do well.