Anyway... we're back to talking about Trace Adkins, an artist who is literally the definition of hit or miss. Case in point, I thought his last single, “Watered Down” was one of the best songs of the year, but his new single, “Still A Solider” is one that has a strong sentiment even if it falls short in its delivery.
If there's anything that deserves to be praised in this song, it's Adkin's vocal performance. He's always been good on a technical level due to his sheer power, and while this song doesn't test that ability at all, his performance is sincere enough to not come across as preachy or pandering. However, while Adkins doesn't give off that preachy and pandering feeling, the lyrics on the paper do.
Much like Kellie Pickler who I'm also talking about today, this is a song that feels both like it's made for critics as well as critic-proof. I mean, how can I disrespect a song about the soldiers fighting for our lives and our freedom? The truth is I'm not. The second verse does do a great job of alluding to possible small effects of PTSD that this soldier back home is suffering from, and that's important to consider since they're “still soldiers” even off the battlefield. It's that verse though that just makes it feel all fake and plastic though. Why does it matter what kind of house he has or truck he drives? We get it, he's a perfect American who likes to drive trucks and drink beer. It's surprising there isn't a reference to hunting or fishing here. The song really does have a nice sentiment, and it gets better after that first verse, but to paint it in this ideal limelight to start it off with hurts it.
Of course, an even bigger issue comes with the production. It's fitting that his last single was titled “Watered Down” because that's exactly how I'd describe the guitar work here. It's trying to be modern and anthemic but it ends up coming across as boring. I just wish Trace would realize his hit making days are behind him and start to infuse more dramatic performances like he has on similar sounding songs like “Til The Last Shot's Fired” or “Arlington”. This just has no muscle to it.
So overall, again, I would say this has a strong sentiment underneath it that's doused by some weak production and questionable lyrics. It's not a bad song, but it's also not really a good one either. It just exists really.
Listen: "Still A Solider"
Author: Zackary Kephart