Chris Young has had one of the most roller-coaster careers I have ever seen. He won a reality show, Nashville Star, and took a long time to establish himself on country radio. He then suddenly shot to stardom, with multiple number ones in a row. The nice thing about Chris was that he was able to have his success with songs that were still very solid. “Tomorrow” is fantastic, “The Man I Want To Be” is great, and ‘Voices” is strong as well. But, after the traditional “Neon” didn’t do so hot, the big wigs stepped in. Out popped a new Chris, wasting his killer voice on duds like “Aw Naw”. Now, Chris seems to be getting back to what he is used to. “Lonely Eyes” isn’t quite up to the high marks that “Neon” and “Tomorrow” set, but it’s a good step in the right direction.
“Lonely Eyes” does something that many country songs do not do anymore: gives the female lead some personality. She is actually an interesting character with some emotions and feelings, not just a glorified hood ornament. The lyrics have enough hope to court the bubblegum crowd, but a tinge of melancholy to excite the fans of deeper music. One thing you can’t say about Chris is that he can’t sing… He has one of the very best voices in country music today. He really shows it off in “Lonely Eyes”. He soars through the song with ease. His voice is so powerful and strong in the chorus. This song was tailor made for him.
The arrangement of the song isn’t my favorite, but it isn’t terrible. Chris was a champion of traditional country when he started out, letting his ballads be full of fiddle and steel. Now, its loud electric guitars and layers and layers of sound. This song has the potential to be a great song, but it loses a lot in the over-produced backing track. It isn’t terrible. There are many songs that don’t even come close to what country music is about. “Lonely Eyes” has flashes, but it still is closer to contemporary pop than country. Just imagine if that electric guitar riff was a steel. The whole song would feel different. Chris Young’s latest album, A.M., was meant for partying and cranking it up. He needs to get back to the sound on “Drinkin’ Me Lonely” and “Neon” instead of this.
Chris Young is at least back to singing songs with some feeling behind them. He is the king of mid-tempo songs with a lot of power. I actually do like “Lonely Eyes”, but it still has a ways to go to be a real country song. But, it is a song with an interesting story and a singer with real talent behind it. I can get behind that. Hopefully, Chris goes back to the studio soon and finds that sound that made him a star. Until then, “Lonely Eyes” will do as a decent radio single that at least shows off Chris Young’s great voice. I don’t love it or hate it, but I know Chris can do better!