Friday, June 18, 2010

Ray Stephenson, "Farmboy"

Enter another member of the "countrier-than-thou" generation - TwangTown Records newcomer Ray Stephenson. His debut single, "Farmboy," is as country as a turnip green. The charming sound of the fiddle and banjo are a welcome relief from the twang-free pop that is often marketed as country.

But underneath all those fiddles, "Farmboy" is merely a paper thin declaration of being an "F-A-R-M-B-O-Y." The first verse, describing hard work on a farm, is almost identical to Rodney Atkins' "Farmer's Daughter." The lyrics pull out all the stops for a country hit - (1) Mention drinking water from a hose (2) Give the family dogs a shout-out (3) Namecheck a legend - in this case Robert Earl Keen (3) Drool over hot country girls... Shall I continue?

Top it all off with a lackluster vocal performance that struggles to stay on key. The result is an unoriginal surefire hit delivered by a semi-competent vocalist. "Farmboy" has the added misfortune of being associated with the stampede of stereotypical country-boy anthems that country radio often plays to death. When a song has weaknesses like that, all the fiddles and banjos in the world are not enough to save it.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)