Single Review: Billy Currington - We Are Tonight

Follow-up to #1 "Hey Girl" Finds Billy Currington getting anthemic on this made-for-radio jam.

For most of his career, Billy Currington has seemed to walk a fine line of being just country enough to qualify as neo-tradionalist without pandering — anyone who cuts a Bobby Braddock song is fine in my book — but also delightfully laid-back in many of his offerings. His songs were often mellow, with even the more upbeat fare such as "I Got a Feelin'" or "That's How Country Boys Roll" managing to stay mostly laid-back and lazy in all the right ways. Really the only time he seemed to cut loose was on the passionate, carnal "Tangled Up" (his biggest flop to date) and the extremely ebullient ear-worm "Love Done Gone." However, as of We Are Tonight, it seems that Currington is trying to add a more "mainstream" edge to his style. I was one of the few who actually thought that "Hey Girl" was a good song (albeit moreso for its sound than its lyrical content), and now, "We Are Tonight" continues in that same direction.

"We Are Tonight" is an easy song to get into, because it travels a familiar path. Details like "Summer comin' through a rolled down window / Tearin' down an almost two-lane backroad" add more than usual to the joy of being with your girl wherever. Although it scans a bit awkwardly, the song's carpe diemmessage adds even more to that common topic: "Everything we wanna be, we are tonight." (I've found that songs with live-for-the-moment messages such as this always work for me.) Billy also reaches for higher notes than usual on the bridge, pushing his relaxed voice in new directions without feeling forced. There's also the production, laden with electric guitar and "whoa oh" vocals, but bursting with energy. The sound is really closer to alternative rock than country — in fact, some parts feel somewhat like a less spacey redo of "The Adventures" by Angels & Airwaves — but the overall feel of the song is well-suited for its message.

I've found that I tend to review Billy Currington an awful lot, and for good reason. He's one of the most distinctive artists in the genre, and the fact that he continues to be so far under the radar despite so many #1 hits is beyond my comprehension. "We Are Tonight" suggests a slightly more "mainstream" Billy than the slightly countrier Billy we got on previous albums, but at the same time, it's a Billy with just as much personality and artistic merit as before. And if is this is the kind of material that will finally get people talking about him, then I'm all for it.