If I were to say that Bradley Gaskin's musical and vocal style bear a striking resemblance to that of Travis Tritt, I would only be saying what nearly every other critic has already said. So I'll just say this: They're right.
With a voice eerily similar to that of the talented nineties star, Bradley Gaskin delivers a debut single that is shamelessly neotraditional. "Mr. Bartender" is a straightforward barroom weeper in which romantic disappointment leads a man to seek comfort at his favorite watering hole.
As a lyrical composition, "Mr. Bartender" isn't exactly groundbreaking. It doesn't get much more clever than imploring "Mr. Bartender" to "Take me out with one shot." Instead, this single makes it mark through Bradley's big-voiced soulful delivery and through the unapologetic countryness of the arrangement. It's still a darn good single, but "Mr. Bartender" may only be scratching the surface Bradley's talent. To some extent, it may be a teaser of even better things to come, but "Mr. Bartender" is still several notches superior to most of what's on country radio today.
"Mr. Bartender" received an overwhelmingly positive reception when Bradley performed it for radio programmers at Country Radio Seminar, leading his label to rush-release it to radio. That may be a reason to be optimistic about the song's hit potential, but we'll have to wait and see how it plays out. Releasing a song like this to country radio is a gutsy move, since radio clearly prefers country music that is only marginally country. While there's definitely nothing wrong with hearing a good pop-country song every now and then, here's hoping that the success of Chris Young and Easton Corbin has paved the way for some more unadulterated country music to be heard on the radio as well.
BRADLEY'S SCORE: 8
(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)
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