George Strait, Jelly Roll, & More – Single Round-Up

Michele Wedel

“The Little Things” George Strait Written by Jack Humphrey

In a co-write by the King himself alongside his son Bubba Strait and Monty Criswell, George Strait turns in one of the most pure, thoughtful tracks we’ve heard all year. As one of country music’s most venerated elder statesmen, Strait offers some simple proverbs on the simple things that really matter in life. The warmth of his voice is as touching as ever, and “The Little Things” has the wise, grandfatherly sound that really sells this single as a personal life lesson. George Strait produced the song with his longtime collaborators Chuck Ainlay and Tony Brown, and their arrangement should instantly recall the vintage George Strait sound with soft drums and steel guitar. The living legend has definitely not missed a step as a creative, and “The Little Things” should not be ignored as a middling, late-career afterthought. This could be one of the year’s best songs and bodes extremely well for the King’s 30th LP


“I Am Not Okay” – Jelly Roll Written By Jack Humphrey

In a vacuum, “I Am Not Okay” is a mild, reasonably well-written adult-contemporary track with a relatable message about staying the course when times get tough. However, Jelly Roll’s continued reliance on the same three or four topics demands that we take this single in context with the rest of his recent output, which renders it exhaustingly boring. Once again, Mr. Roll leans on the weight of the mental health conversation to give “I Am Not Okay” some unearned gravitas, covering for the fact that the song itself has nothing interesting to say. It’s not just that numerous songs have already been written about being a flawed headcase; Jelly Roll himself has written more than his fair share, making this single feel flat and predictible. On his second true country album, originality should be a top priority for the Tennessean hometown hero, and on that score, “I Am Not Okay” just doesn’t deliver.


“Everything Is Changing” – Billy Currington Written By Max Buondonno

It’s hard to tell what Billy Currington intends to do with the remainder of his career. After all, he’s not the easiest person to read, and seems to have little enthusiasm for the music he puts out, best evidenced by the reputation blow he took when he released a dumb pop record with no promo of any kind behind it (see: 2021’s Intuition). Of course, he has nothing to prove anymore; with songs like “Good Directions” and “People Are Crazy” under his belt, he has every right to do whatever he wants for the rest of his life. His latest release, “Everything Is Changing,” is a Keith Urban-adjacent track about the passage of time, Currington doesn’t offer listeners the same storytelling or traditional country sound he’s often associated with. Instead, it’s a light-hearted look at how your life changes as you get older. Granted, it’s a decent enough single; written by Currington alongside Cary Barlowe, Sam Romans, and Will Weatherly (who also produced it), the lyrics are relatable and easy to digest. Still, it leaves much to be desired and fails to remind listeners who Currington was in his heyday.


“All American Guy” – Chris Janson Written By Max Buondonno

Get ready for the latest from everyone’s favorite American (and The Rock’s best friend)! In this three-minute, seven-second exploration of the most American things Janson and two other writers could think of. And boy, have we never heard of this before! Guys, it’s so refreshing to hear a country artist rattle off a million and one ways American dudes celebrate their American-ness. There’s bass fishing, holding your lady, celebrating with cold beers, driving trucks, kicking up mud, and the list goes on and on! ‘MERICA! 

In all seriousness, this single sucks, and not because it’s yet another dull, checklist track from a country artist. Songs like Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” and “It’s America” by Rodney Atkins are much more profound, offer the listener something to relate to while also telling their own story, and celebrate the same American cliches while not shoving them down your throat. Janson could’ve taken this approach with “All American Guy,” but he didn’t. Instead, it’s a bland bro-country tribute to the U.S. of A; tired chants like these haven’t been popular since 2008. If anything, it’s just another song to add to your 4th of July barbecue playlist, but it’s best if you don’t pay any attention to it.


Devil In My Ear – Red Clay Strays Written By Adam Delahoussaye

As the Red Clay Strays share more of their new project slated for release next month, a more fully-realized version of their personality is unfolding before our very eyes. A veer into new ideas and lyrical territories makes itself apparent here on “Devil In My Ear,” a darker change of pace from the smooth, R&B leanings of Moment of Truth. Written by lead guitarist Drew Nix, we get a visceral oration of depression and its all-engulfing nature here. It feels disparate, yet adjacent to the themes of heartache and despair that they’ve won audiences over with thus far. Hefty topics and heavy hearts are no strangers to this group, and there’s no voice more fit to cover them than Brandon Coleman’s. While sensitive subject matter such as this is no stranger to the genre, rarely is it approached with as much gravitas as Miller and the rest of the group give it. With all eyes on them, this song a testament to artistry and character that The Red Clay Strays are unveiling on their next album, shining a sincere light on what it’s like to be tormented by forces beyond one’s control.


Mind Of A Country Boy – Luke Bryan Written By Creed Miller

Luke Bryan has always been one of the most predictable artists in country music, and this continued to hold with his latest release, “Mind Of A Country Boy.” Bryan penned it alongside Ben Hayslip, Dallas Davidson, and Rhett Akins, and it offers exactly what the listener would expect. It checks every possible cliche in the book, running through what goes on in the mind of a country boy, and the lack of creativity makes this single very difficult to connect with. On songs like “Drink A Beer,” he’s shown that he can create a bond with the listener through his writing; however, it’s been a while since he’s done so. On the bright side, this is the closest sound to prime Luke Bryan we’ve heard in some time. Adding some steel pedal gives it more traditional flair and saves it from being a bad track. This could easily have fit in his Tailgates & Tanlines album, which isn’t his best, but still has some classics. If Bryan gets back to his roots with some fun hooks, it could inspire some exciting music in the future. In the meantime, it would be nice to see some more profound songwriting that doesn’t sound like it’s been done a million times over.


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