Usually, I’ve questioned the reasoning behind covering an artist’s song as a duet with the original artist. 99% of the time, such covers are often bland attempts to try and re-create the original note-for-note, leaving the listener to wonder, what’s the point? Jimmy Wayne’s new single, a cover of the 1976 pop hit for Hall & Oates, appears at first glance to be this same sort of “what’s the point?” cover, given that Daryl Hall and John Oates sing backup on it. Indeed, the song isn’t markedly different from the original, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a pointless cover. Since Daryl Hall and John Oates only provide backing vocals, the song doesn’t feel like it’s trying to ape the original version.
While the song sticks fairly close to the R&B and soul influences of Hall & Oates’ original, there are occasional banjo licks that steer it a little closer to the mainstream country-pop sound. Jimmy gives a great vocal performance, again holding rather closely to the original, while still injecting his own personality. After the bombast of Do You Believe Me Now, this song is a refreshing change of pace.
“Sara Smile” may be a polarizing song for the fans who argue back and forth about what is and isn’t country — never mind that Hall & Oates had a hit with a cover of The Jenkins’ “Getaway Car.” But at the same time, there are some songs that are just plain well-executed no matter how you categorize them, and “Sara Smile” is one of them.