And then "It Ain't My Fault" happened. Suddenly the Eric Church comparisons made so much more sense, and now, it seems like the Brothers Osborne have finally "sharpened their sword" so to say, because their new single, "Shoot Me Straight" is a pure joy to listen to.
The song begins with bluesy electric guitar (so again, hello Eric Church comparisons!), and between that and the thumping beat that crops up after a few seconds, it feels like some modern outlaw era track. In other words, it's vastly different from everything currently at country radio in a good way. Then we get to that chorus, and from then on the song just explodes into Southern-Rock goodness. In an era too where so many solos feel under-wrought, Brothers Osborne, double and then triple down to delivery fiery solo after fiery solo. Seriously, the song is literally about two minutes of singing and four more minutes of just straight up guitar play that gets groove heavy and later on really embraces those blues elements. The whole damn thing is an adrenaline rush really. Hell, even the eventual radio edit of this song won't be robbed of an awesome solo!
Much like "It Ain't My Fault", the lyrics of "Shoot Me Straight" can seem non-essential and even clumsy on the first spin or two (although in this particular song, they could be singing about puppies on Mars and it would be still be awesome). However, much also like "It Ain't My Fault", I'd argue that there's a lot of subtext as well. The first verse is made to suggest that this is just centered around two lovers who are bad for each other and yet somehow need each other anyway. Again, not a bad theme, but not terribly original either. However, the second verse talks about vices the narrator in question uses to blow off smoke including hanging with friends and resorting to drinking, and considering there's a line here that states "there's plenty of time for alcohol from happy hour to last call, so do what you gotta do so I can get to getting over you", and you realize he just may be talking about the alcohol itself when he means "shoot me straight", not a friends with benefits situation. In other words, drinking to get over a possible heartache, yes, but also one that cleverly uses a twist to get there. Admittedly I should be more critical of the fact that they're going for the whole "drinking to forget" theme, however, there are some points to counter that.
One, it's obvious that the narrator is down on his luck (to understate it), so it's understandable that he's drinking to forget in the comfort of his own home. Like the narrator on "It Ain't My Fault", it's obvious that the narrator is a stubborn one, but it's also heavily implied that he's willing to take full responsibilities for his actions in the morning. Two, the escapism theme makes sense since it sort of sets the groundwork for why we even have a nearly four minute solo at all. It may be an utter joy to listen to, but really it symbolizes things just sort of coming undone, and again, there's so much more to this song than what meets the eye.
But really, even if you come strictly for the solos, it's still an awesome song regardless. It just also happens to be smart lyrically as well. Overall, if the Brothers Osborne are looking to stretch their Southern-Rock muscle on their new album, I'm all for it, because they're damn good at it. Again, the escapism theme may be a lazy one to use, but when it's backed up with the correct groove and atmosphere, I couldn't care less. This kicks ass.
Listen: "Shoot Me Straight"
Author: Zackary Kephart