Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chuck Wicks, "Old School"

No way.  There is no way this is Chuck Wicks.  I swear this is James Otto, because this is the same sultry country soul that the big man with the big voice has put a trademark on.  Besides that, this is the best groovy little summer song I've heard since "Groovy Little Summer Song."

This isn't exactly the kind of song that I was dying to hear, having finally had a few months to recover from the annual summer song burnout.  But there's no denying that Chuck handles this material remarkably well.  When he sings about "old Panama Jack layin' back," his laid-back delivery would make you think that he's lying back in his chaise lounge while singing it.  His mellow vocal is complimented by a gently grooving arrangement with bluesy guitar licks and traces of steel.  Then we're hit with a catchy chorus full of playful rhyming schemes and "oh-oh-ohh" hooks.

As an extra asset, "Old School" has the distinction of a different-than-usual setting.  The song is set in an entirely urban environment where we find the narrator sippin' coolada at the Ramada, as opposed to playing up his country cred with backwoods cliches.  The verses carry an undercurrent of nostalgia throughout, with the narrator reminiscing longingly over his youthful exploits (which apparently took place at a time when tape decks were still widely in use).

So why is Chuck releasing what is essentially a summer song when summer is long over?  That's anybody's guess.  Maybe his label is banking on this song having a really long chart climb and peaking in June.  Either that, or this is just meant to provide some pleasant escapism during the cold and ballad-heavy winter months.  Regardless, "Old School" treats a tired-out theme in a way that doesn't feel tired-out, and it's always refreshing when an artist brings something new to the table.

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