Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Gretchen Wilson, "I'd Love to Be Your Last"

Gretchen Wilson was easily the most unlikely Grammy nominee this year, with her ballad "I'd Love to Be Your Last" receiving a nod for Best Female Country Vocal Performance, despite the fact that it had not been released to radio.  As a result of the attention resulting from the nomination, "I'd Love to Be Your Last" has been announced as the third single from Gretchen's current album I Got Your Country Right Here.

If you got a bit of a "Haven't I heard this before" vibe from this song, then that may be because a version of this song previously appeared on Clay Walker's 2007 album Fall.  We see some notable differences between the two cuts.  Clay's version shines with studio polish as a string section shimmers behind his flawless vocal delivery.  In start contrast, Gretchen's version is raw, unpolished, and imperfect.  Backed almost entirely by acoustic guitar, Gretchen delivers the verses in a soft and breathy whisper of a performance.

Such an interpretation might not work on just any song, but it's a good fit for a lyric about an intimate moment between two flawed and imperfect individuals, both of whom have made mistakes and gone through many moments of heartbreak.  While Gretchen admits she would rather "give my heart to you unbroken," she chooses to forget the past and concentrate on the future.  "I don't care if I'm your first love," she concludes, "but I'd love to be your last."

The quiet acoustic arrangement might not be country radio's cup of tea, but this is still a beautiful song, and Gretchen delivers a unique and respectable interpretation.  Since much of her recent output has been fairly forgettable, it's a pleasure to hear her singing a song that doesn't reek of pandering in the least.  On the contrary, "I'd Love to Be Your Last" sounds different from anything else on the radio right now.  Listen to this single, and hear a sincere and emotional side of the "Redneck Woman" that has rarely been on such fine display.  More please.

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