After his second #1, “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off,” earlier this decade, Joe Nichols has had the hardest time getting back on his feet. Of the five singles released after that smash, he has had songs that either crawled to their peaks or quickly flamed out. Earlier this year, he led off his current album Old Things New with “Believers,” which only managed to stumble to #26.
Just like its predecessor, second single “Gimmie That Girl” (beyond its egregious misspelling of “gimme”) has a perfectly serviceable idea and slightly interesting vignettes that don’t really cohere into much of anything. “Believers” strung together certain scenes in which belief plays a strong role, and similarly, “Gimmie That Girl” offers up a string of fairly vague statements about his girl: the one that’s “beautiful without a trace of makeup on / Barefoot in the kitchen, singin’ her favorite song.” Some of these details are truly interesting, but they don’t really develop beyond a string of (don’t make me type this again) “gimmies.” There is a vague attempt to tie the “gimmies” (ugh) together into a song that tells this girl that she looks fine without her makeup on, but it falls way short of the levels set by other more interesting takes such as “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful” or even “Fast Cars and Freedom.”
Despite its lyrical shortcomings, this song seems like the kind that would probably be a good fit for Nichols, who has a generally engaging, everyman voice akin to a slightly deeper George Strait. Unfortunately, something went wrong in the vocal department too. Here, Nichols sounds strangely detached and forced; there is also a startling level of pitch-correction, making his voice sound cold and mechanical. The lifeless vocal track starkly contrasts the fairly lively melody and clean, uncluttered production.
Nichols has already proven that he can do much better, such as on the Haggard-esque “Another Side of You” or nearly anything else off Real Things. His switch to blander material such as this almost comes off as a bid for radio airplay, and if “Believers” and (here we go again) “Gimmie That Girl” are any indication, it just isn’t working.