Friday, November 18, 2011

THIS not THAT: Grandpa’s Farm

In this installment of THIS not THAT, for the first time, the same song is going head to head. They may have the same lyrics and melody, but that’s where the similarities end.
David Nail’s newly released album, The Sound of a Million Dreams, includes a song that Frankie Ballard recorded on his debut album earlier this year. It just so happens to be my favorite on Frankie’s album, Grandpa’s Farm.
I’ve loved this song since I first heard Frankie Ballard play it live in March (?… maybe earlier). Frankie’s farm sets the scene. As you listen, you can picture the rope swing, the shaded shoreline of a lake, tall green grass, vibrant sunset, dirt roads and fields that never end. You can smell the honeysuckle and imagine the sheets on the clothesline that the lyrics so starkly depict. It reminds me of summertime, and as the cold air blows in around here, it takes me back to the warm months not too long ago. It’s a song that taps into every one of your senses, and I love listening to it for that reason. Written by Adam Hood, Brent Cobb, and Jason Saenz, this song was a perfect cut for Frankie Ballard’s debut because it set him apart from the usual pre-packaged dribble that record labels require new artists to conform to. Frankie delivers a believable performance, adding a gritty attitude and the youthful free-will that drives the spirit of the song. For added contrast, listen to Adam Hood’s original version [Spotify]. 
When I first heard David Nail's version, my jaw literally fell open.
Instead of Grandpa’s Farm… David Nail takes us to Grandma’s Parlour. His version is nearly a minute longer than Frankie’s or Adam’s, because layer after layer of elements were piled on, drowning the simple melody and country soul. It’s obvious that David wanted his to be more bluesy, but they took it much too far. Keys replace the banjo, and overtly placed female background vocals distract from the lone narrator’s personal appeal. David managed to take the song I just described to you and strip away every ounce of the rough character it once held to match the wild outdoors where the song is set. Nashville sure knows how to take something simple and overwork it ‘til it loses all remnants of true life.
His voice sounds great, as always, but it’s not a good match for the song. It was a not only an ill-suited song choice that doesn’t come close to how I’ve ever perceived his music, but I think it ruined any chance this song had as being a future (summer) single for Frankie. Worst of all, David opened his album with this song. After that, I really have no reason to listen any further.
In the video below where his version plays in the background, he describes how he wanted it to sound like his take on Elton John. I’m sorry, what? Elton John ‘down on the farm?’ Is that how David Nail wants to define himself as an artist? Now I am just all kinds of confused. I am not confused about one thing, though. Frankie Ballard’s “Grandpa’s Farm” is tops. Listen and decide for yourself.

Frankie Ballard “Grandpa’s Farm”

David Nail "Grandpa’s Farm"

Listen on Spotify


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