As stated earlier this week, Brooks & Dunn is going to retire after one last concert in 2010. That’s not enough time for a whole new studio album to be recorded, much less for three singles to be released from one. In other words, “Honky Tonk Stomp,” the second single from the upcoming #1′s… and then some, is Brooks & Dunn’s swan song.
And, unless we get some last-minute change, “Honky Tonk Stomp” will certainly end the duo’s long, fruitful career with a bang. While rock influences occasionally turn up in such songs as “Hillbilly Deluxe,” this song is the hardest that B&D has ever rocked in its career. Of course, some of that hard, raw sound is courtesy of ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons, who provides some backing vocals. The production is seriously amped-up, with cannon-fire snares and loud, crunchy guitar work. It seriously took me nearly a minute to realize that this was even Brooks & Dunn. Ronnie’s resonant voice effortlessly slips into a gruff growl, and he truly sounds like he’s having fun (and for about the 87th time in a row, there’s nary a trace of Kix). The song is a fairly typical “we’re country and we’re loud and proud” type of material that even B&D has seemingly beaten to death — but this song isn’t trying to be an anthem, it’s trying to be a fun little rocker, and it works quite finely on that level. It was certainly a good idea to pull the faltering, bland “Indian Summer” for this.
Will this song be a hit? Who knows. It’s got a radio-friendly theme, but at the same time, it’s like absolutely nothing else on country radio. Regardless of how it fares, I get the feeling that B&D aren’t going to suddenly change their minds at the last minute. If this song becomes a hit, it’ll prove that the duo was relevant to the bitter end; if it tanks, it’ll at least end their career on a high note.