As a child of the 1990s, I’m familiar with the dozens and dozens of acts that came out of the “hat act” boom. Granted, many of them were unremarkable and interchangeable, but they were often solid enough to stick in the head at least a little, and I can’t help but feel nostalgic for them. One such act was Rhett Akins, whose “That Ain’t My Truck” is one of my absolute favorite mid-90s singles. Long after the hits dried up, Akins reinvented himself as a songwriter — specifically, one-third of The Peach Pickers, purveyors of light, fluffy, but not unenjoyable fare such as “Put a Girl in It” or “Honey Bee.” And the latest addition to the Akins legacy is the budding musical career of his son, who goes by the name Thomas Rhett.
The younger Akins has already notched two Top 20 hits. The first, “Something to Do with My Hands,” blended his dad’s lighter touch with a more authentic rock bent than many others of late. “Beer with Jesus” showed a maturity beyond his years, with its pontifications about having a casual conversation with Jesus, but apparently the whole “beer” thing rubbed some people the wrong way. And “It Goes Like This” continues to show Thomas Rhett’s diversity. Co-written by his father, along with Ben Hayslip and Jimmy Robbins (who also penned Blake Shelton’s disposable “Sure Be Cool If You Did”), “It Goes Like This” is targeted at a girl who is inspiring the male narrator to write a song. One that “goes like ooh, what I wouldn’t do / To write my name on your heart, get you wrapped in my arms, baby, all around you…” Even among all the songs targeted at girls, this song stands out with its interesting premise. Michael Knox’s delivery gives a similar edge that Jay Joyce gave on the previous two singles without ever going overboard, while Rhett’s lightly grained, casual, friendly delivery brings to mind the rough-edged charm of Kip Moore.
Maybe third time is the charm for Thomas Rhett. So far, he’s had more success writing for others (“1994,” “Parking Lot Party,” “Round Here”) than for himself, but “It Goes Like This” has all the ingredients for a hit. What’s more, his catalog to date shows an above-average level of diversity that should easily separate him from the ever-huge pack of rock-leaning country boys.