Mark Wills’ newest, Looking For America is… predictable. Not predictable in a “Mark Wills” kind of way – because frankly, I haven’t heard all that much of his stuff before. No, predictable as in a “country music beating a dead horse” kind of way. Every topic of each of Wills’ songs has been done before, over, and over… and over. The album as a whole is by no means bad, just… we get it.
Yes, Mark Wills is talented. Yes, there’s certainly a market for it. But how bout a little originality? Maybe it’s because I have been listening to country music forever, or maybe I just didn’t have my morning cup of coffee; but I found myself getting close to the end of many of the tracks and simply hitting next.
Before I explain myself further, I would like to point out that there is one original song that is an anomaly to my critique: Phantom of the Opry. I like the idea for that song.
But here’s what I mean: The first song on the album is Rockin’ The Country. It featured such nauseatingly obvious lines as “Hey y’all, yee haw / Little bit of hillbilly, little bit of outlaw” and instrumentation that could be found in any old Jason Aldean, Craig Morgan or Rodney Adkins song.
I wasn’t optimistic going in to the title track, Looking For America. And sure enough, not only was it cliché with respects to America songs, it was cliché with respects to songs about the good ol’ days… the old one-two punch to the horse recently murdered by Rockin’ The Country. But just to make sure the “American” horse was truly dead, the next song is about a soldier! Ok, I actually really like the lyrics to this one; it would be an admiral song on a record with more diversity. However, given the circumstances, it didn’t reach it’s greatest potential. Not to mention, it’s on the album twice, the second time as an acoustic version.
Then we get into a song about forgetting your problems. Another good song lyrically, but it’s about dancing “like there’s no yesterday,” (just a tad corny) and nothing caught my ear about it. Following that were songs about heartbreak, being in love, heartbreak again, The Phantom of the Opry, and then heartbreak again. Actually all of these songs were well written, so for those who enjoy lyrics, this is a good album.
On that note, as you may know, an artist who writes his own music automatically jumps up several notches on my critiquing scale. Well, it’s no doubt this album has great lyrics; it features some of Nashville’s best… but Mark Wills isn’t one of them. He co-wrote one song, and it was the one I lost interest in. However, there are songs penned by Chris Tompkins (Before He Cheats, Voices), the Warren Brothers (Red Solo Cup, Anyway), Brett James (Jesus Take The Wheel, When The Sun Goes Down) and Lee Brice.
I would never turn anyone away from listening to this album, but it will quickly get lost in the shuffle.
Looking For America track listing:
1. Rockin’ The Country
2. Looking For America
3. Crazy Being Home
4. Like There’s No Yesterday
5. Rather Be
6. The Whole World
7. Smokin’ Gun
8. Phantom Of The Opry
9. Where Did I Lose You
10. Crazy Being Home (Acoustic Version)