If ever there were an unlikely source for a country music song, it would be the self-titled debut album of Sonia Dada, an obscure Chicago-based soul band. Although they never broke through in the United States, Sonia Dada sent “You Don’t Treat Me No Good” to the top of the Australian charts in 1992. If ever there were an unlikely artist to cover that song, it would be Jerrod Niemann. So far, Niemann’s claims are sparse, but irrefutable: a co-writer’s credit on three Garth Brooks songs (including “Good Ride Cowboy”) and a minor chart single in 2006 on the now-defunct Category 5 label, as well as two self-released albums. His cover, re-titled “Lover, Lover,” is his second release for Brad Paisley’s Sea Gayle label.
Unlikely as this combination is, it still manages to work surprisingly well. Certainly not far-removed in sound from the original version, Jerrod’s cover is soulful, catchy and distinctive. There’s very little to get in the way of the snappy melody and Jerrod’s strong voice, except for a neatly layered chorus of backing vocals behind him near the end. The lyrics are somewhat sparse — indeed, it feels like half the song is “lover, lover, you don’t treat me no good no more” — but that’s a minor complaint for a song that sells itself on performance.
Every now and then, some new artist manages to break through with a song that is remarkably different in sound from the norm, and yet still manages to find its way onto radio playlists. If its quick ascent to the Top 40 in only four weeks is any indication, “Lover, Lover” may be the song that breaks Jerrod out of obscurity. Who knows — there might even be a couple soul covers on down the line.