1. Track List (57)

Swindell On His Debut Self Titled Album Takes Us On A Journey Where Love Comes And Goes, But Parties Always Rock

taylor
Written by taylor
/ 6 mins read

Of the Country Rock artists who lean towards warm Pop melodies, my money is on Cole Swindell. He just has the most crowd pleasing quality, and sounds quite talented vocally and instrumentally on his debut album entitled Cole Swindell – owning his sound by slapping his name on it. Swindell’s voice is his most powerful asset – rarely disappointing except in a couple instances here. With his authentic Georgia boy twang and boyish charm, it is hard not to like the guy, want to party with the guy, and not feel bad for the guy when his heart has been broken. He sounds both vibrantly youthful but also wisened and forlorn, and there is no note he can’t hit if he goes for it. There is a rough timbre to his vocals, but not overly so. Generally, I find that he has such an agreeable sound that I would hesitate to be too critical when the music strays into generic territory. Reading up on his personal life, I feel for the guy even more knowing that his father, without much warning, passed away in September 2013 just a month after Swindell released his first successful single “Chillin’ It”. How tragic that must have been to lose a ‘rock’ such as one’s father – and learning of this provided so much food for thought and insight for me. On the one hand, I am so happy that his father was able to see the first steps of Swindell’s career coming to fruition. On the other hand, it is a bit sad that he wouldn’t see his son’s career progress to the heights it is today – as he is recognized as one of the best names in the biz after major tours and three hit albums. That is life though – full of unexpected turns – and instead of wallowing in sadness, Swindell just ascended – I am sure partly because his father would have wanted him to.

A Shaky Start Soon Gets A Whole Lot Better

Great albums have great openers, and though I am swept up in the easy going joys of Cole Swindell, I am not 100% satisfied with first tack “Hey Y’all” – and perhaps only 50% interested in its content at that. What works here is the happy feelings which come from a simple yet emotional melody, which features attention grabbing drums and wailing guitar moments. What doesn’t work as well is the forced nature of clunky phrases attempted, and the too-many-words per bar deliveries. I say slow it down – but I think I know what is at hand; Cole Swindell is a young guy circa 2014 who wants to infuse some Hip Hop cadence into his music from the get go – even if he has to wing it. And that is exactly what the result is – it is somewhat inauthentic, not terribly confident, and above all, clumsy. Yet for girls who find his attempting such a concept adorable, the song may totally work, and for fellas who grew up on equal parts Country and Hip Hop, a song like this may be too infectious to not sing-rap along to. A sing-rap, or rather, sing-talk cadence accompanies the next song “Chillin’ It”, yet here, the confidence level is much higher, while the pace is measured out perfectly, creating a stronger desire to sing along, whatever your genre preference. I happen to like all genres, and I feel I can recognize when a song is working – this one just does, putting a smile on my face. Swindell favors banjo syncopation – and here, that rhythm really keeps the rockin’ atmosphere rollin’. The tempo slows down and the music gets even better on the sweet and moving ballad “Swayin’”, where the melody perfectly reflects the title, through low fall-in-love bass and heavily layered romantic chords. Meanwhile, Swindell repeats rhyming words with a lot of vocal liberty, but because I like the quality of his voice, what could have been a nasally and annoying sounding hook sounds right as rain. I sure wouldn’t mind kissing a girl to this ballad.

When It Comes To Sex And Love, Except For Swayin’, The Ballads Lack A Certain Effectiveness

By the look of the title, “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight”, I’d initially guess that this was a diss song – but in fact, it is a very tender invitation addressed to a girl to late-night rendezvous with Swindell. He does sings some silly sounding deliveries, approaching a cartoonish Weird Al timbre while saying lines like “if you're feelin' what I'm feelin' let's mix it up / you got my number baby hit me up”, but that is more me being over critical about Country Pop artists’ generally weak ‘sex talk game’ rather than the wholesome innocence which is also clearly evident. While the title suggests a much sexier vibe and Cole Swindell gets another crack at being a sexpot, “Let Me See You Ya Girl” suffers from it’s arrangement, which though guitar heavy, isn’t really that seductive. Likewise, “I Just Want You” has an annoying needy sound that isn’t sexy either. That’s three love ballads that just don’t sound like they are hitting the way their titles imply – but I can concede that for a post break up love ballad, the regretful lyrics are well written and the melody is appropriately somber on “A Dozen Roses and a Six-Pack”. With notes that balance worry with a glimmer of hope that she might come back - Swindell finally delivers again in the romance department.

Swindell Is Best When Soundtracking The Party

What’s a Country album without songs with alcoholic beverages somewhere in the title. Fresh from a break up, Swindell telegraphs to his ex “don’t think for a second I’m out to drown your memory / baby you ain’t worth the whiskey.” Damn skippy. “Ain’t Worth The Whisky” rock’s real hard, and Cole Swindell sings with tons of defiance and twang, while another one, “Brought To You By Beer” paints such a good time being had, showing Swindell as a single man untethered, making observations of party goers who are each having a blast while downing their brews. I really love the energy of this last song, and also the loud danceable funky anthem “Get Up”, which is impossible not to get up to, though the song is certainly addressed to a fun loving girl willing to climb on to Swindell’s shoulders and party hard. It is in fact here where there is the clearest sounding example of Swindell’s voice sounding sexiest and in charge – and if he could put that same energy in the other love ballads, he would have all his bases covered.

Country Pop With A Lot Of Heart, Swindell’s ‘You Should Be Here’ Is Where You Should Be At

taylor
Written by taylor
/ 9 mins read

It’s no secret that I generally have some pretty biting criticism for Country Pop as a genre, as it is so handcuffed to these rather annoying Pop conventions such as copycats hooks and notes, yet at the same time, when these conventions are handled with the right amount of care, I can easily be swept up by such formulas. Cole Swindell is one of the few Country Pop Artists that continues to win me over with both his carefree party numbers and also his ballads that have a hell of a lot of heart. Honestly, even if I know where such music is going by the time I’m a quarter into the track, I for some reason totally stick around and even sing along to karaoke ready anthems because Swindell has a very charismatic vocal quality. His is a rough timbre and his drawl is definitely one of the more present drawls out there, yet never does he sound like a caricature – in fact, it is Swindell’s authentic sounding voice that I am really buying. Albums and voices and instrumentations like these put me at ease and I tend to let my critical guard down and just go with the flow on these songs which won’t win any awards in my book, but certainly make me understand how the newer generation of Country music lovers feel about their scene. Swindell’s music is simple, relatable here and there, and enjoyable for me when I don’t listen too intently to the lyrics - I prefer to vicariously latch on to the moods being created. Still, listening to song after song about missed connections or a fear of not making enough of an impression on a girl can be a bit of a drag, as I am hearing more confidence issues than chivalry at play, raising my eyebrows each time a rather clueless passage is uttered.

The First Few Tracks Are A Mix Of Hit And Miss For Me, But Experience With Swindell Reminds Me To Practice Patience

Not for the first time, an album begins with my most disliked song – not a terrible song by any means, but one that is my least favorite of the bunch. “Flatliner” is a Southern Rock joint with wailing electric guitars and swift Rock drumming, yet the notes played here are those obvious canned ones that sound like musicians ‘trying too hard’ to sound southern. Now, I know these cats are all southern – that’s not debatable, but with such a rich regional music history to fall back on, more often than not modern artists still choose to pick canned melodies and patterns that I feel are ill thought out. The power chords are voluminous with an edge, sure, but their progression is so freakin’ dull, yet even worse than that is the motor mouth way in which Cole Swindell and guest Dierks Bentley are vocalizing their lyrics – pitching up at the end of each line with these really corny emphases. Yes, everything is designed to display a devil may care attitude, but they are not committing fully, from the sound of things. I do not like when a concept sounds half baked – too many other ways of delivering attitude in a better way out there to settle on verses and hooks such as these. But I know my boy Cole Swindell won’t perpetually let me down, and as if hearing my dissatisfaction, he hits with a solid song number two – called “Middle of a Memory” , a laid back ballad that really picks up with the elevated volume of its hook; “in the middle of a dance floor all alone / in the middle of an old school country song / right when I was just about to lean on in / why'd you have to go then?” The best thing about this song are the vivid lyrics, which, as us fellas could all agree – are really universal. Swindell has been struck by the beauty of a girl in a bar, and after getting the courage up to by her a drink and ask her for a dance, the burgeoning love connection is cut short by her friends showing up and pulling her away to leave for another spot. Soul crushing lyrics indeed, but totally relatable; “about a minute into our first dance / we got blindsided by your friends / all in a hurry like you had to go / didn't they know you can't leave someone / Girl, you can't leave someone.” Happens all the time. But here is the hard truth that I don’t know if Swindell gets. We’ve all been there, but we learn through experience that the girl is not going to leave unless she wasn’t interested – in most cases. A little bit of that self wisdom would have been awesome.

Raise Your Red Cups To Some Of These Delightful Trials & Tribulations

Aside from track four “Home Game”, which suffers from the same weak Millennial Pop cadence where every sing-talked line goes up then down at the end, the music gets decidedly better after such songwriting weak-sauce. This turn around begins with the cymbal crashing Rock ballad “Up”, one of those passion on the dance floor moments stoked by a U2 style delay pedal guitar pattern and some great vocals from Swindell as he describes how his woman’s qualities have him ‘up’ walking on clouds, yet also referring how he wants to be ‘up’ all night, as he doesn’t want to come down. Even where the Millennial Whoops come in, I don’t care because they generally fit – and who knows, maybe I could be swept up in the same energy enough to belt out ‘wah-ohhh’ with the rest of the gang. The chords are not all that inventive, but “Party Wasn’t Over” is for the kids going to house parties now, incorporating trending Trap sounds to best express this lament similar to “Middle of a Memory”, where there is a good time being had, but the girl of your dreams leaves before you had a chance to truly connect. We have all had those crushes in middle school and high school, and I personally imagine a Country fried version of the teen romance movie Can’t Hardly Wait playing out in my minds eye, with the hottest girl in school Jennifer Love Hewitt always two steps ahead of my plan to win her over.

An Abundance Of Ballads With Bittersweet Grooves

Many of the ballads tend to present the same warm yet subtlety somber vibe, and with arrangements so similar, it is hard to say which track is memorable over another. I find this to be somewhat of a shame – with a little more effort, Swindell probably could have diversified the ballads. Still, they are all quite listenable at least – “Stay Downtown” continues with the frustrated love vibes with continued uncertainty about Swindell’s relationship status, presenting itself as a typical ‘late night bootycall’ song where he knows his ex (I assume) should stay her ass downtown if she knew what was good for her, but he is weak enough to open the door when she knocks and sleep with her when she gives hims drunken kisses ‘like tattoos’ on his neck. It always ends up as a ‘bad idea’ in the morning. Cliché city, but whatever. “You Should Be Here” is about loved ones who are gone, and how they would have dug whatever current moment is unfolding. Again, a similar sounding ballad with perhaps and even more forgettable melody. “Stars” grooves a bit more with a lot more hope, and I find that I like the melody even more on “Making My Way to You”, reminding me of the type of motivational music one listens to when returning to a loved one after a long time of being broken up. “Gettin’ Forgotten’” is one of two bittersweet acoustic and sadly sung numbers – this one has a little more brightness to it, while “Remember Boys” is slightly better arranged overall, but I do take issue with the unbelievable lyrics, as Swindell invents a term that I don’t think really exists, as it is predicated on girls actually having a cadre of boys that they remember fondly in the back of their minds, and that Swindell is somehow happy to be included in such a group of guys who failed at keeping a relationship going with her. First of all, my experience with speaking with girls about such topics is that they don’t think about ex lovers in such a way – maybe a couple ‘remember boy’ moments, but not at the detriment of messing up whatever current feelings they have going for the current guy. As a man, I can understand more the swag of a rapper saying to a girl he’s after that he wants to be the ‘only one’ she will ever remember, because he enters that relationship as a unique individual determined to make an impact – but as Swindell tells it, he would actually enter the relationship with low expectations and only the conciliatory hope of at least making the same impact as a bunch of other dudes? Well, I won’t be singing along to this one, but I could totally switch gears and belt it out to the best and most traditional sounding Country Rock boots-scooting dance track “No Can Left Behind.” Great arrangement, melody, and fun as hell lyrics where Swindell’s true confidence shines through.

One Of The Voices Of Modern Country Doesn’t Sound Too Shabby On Fun Album ‘All of It’

I’m usually pretty disappointed by Modern Country, dissatisfied with easy hooks and easy notes, yet there is something about Cole Swindell that works for me, or rather – his Pop gets the job done and therefore I can totally understand his appeal with new generations of Country fans. I totally could raise a can of beer with the rest of the party to his music, and sometimes, that’s all that really matters. What is interesting about this album is that it opens with exactly the generic type of music I dislike, and I might have turned it off if it weren’t for track 2 making me stay. Cole Swindell wants “All of It” on the second tune and the album’s title track – where the vocals are tender, even if the lyrics are a little blunt. “I wanna see you in a pair of cut off jeans”, Swindell croons, as honorably as he can muster. The banjo syncopates softly and other acoustic guitars play in cyclical pattens, as the drum hits slam, creating a nice Soft Rock atmosphere. I don’t like how many words Swindell tries to dish out in the each stanza, where it would have been better to space things out for more emotional resonance and sexual tension. Still, already I was hearing progress.

Written by taylor  / Mar 28, 2019

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    12. Artist Info

    About

    Colden Rainey Swindell (born June 30, 1983) is an American country music singer and songwriter. Swindell has written singles for Craig Campbell, Thomas Rhett, Scotty McCreery, and Luke Bryan, and has released three albums for Warner Bros. Records Nashville. He has released nine singles, of which seven have charted within the Top 5 of Hot Country Songs and/or Country Airplay.
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    Born

      1983-06-30

    Active

      2013–present

    Label

    • Warner Bros. Nashville