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Cole Swindell

You Should Be Here – 2016 (Warner Nashville)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Cole Swindell

Good ole Georgia boy Cole Swindell, whose debut yielded three chart toppers, doesn't suffer from the soph slump here, but that's mainly because Swindell doesn't stray all that far from the formula that yielded "Hey Y'all" and "Chillin' It" and "Hope You Get Lonely Tonight."

If looking for Swindell to go deep, don't. Not with songs like "Party Wasn't Over" or the opener with Dierks Bentley aboard on "Flatliner" ("Dang, girl, look at you Stopping me in my boots/What's a country boy to do, but say/Uh uh"). Like the "seven-seven" mentioned in the lyrics (Swindell remains big on alcohol this time around as well with nearly all containing at least some reference to drinking), the songs go down easy, but they don't cut all that much beyond the usual light emotions of wanting the girl. Badly.

Song after song is filled with anonymous caricatures of women lusted after ("Home Game," about stealing kisses under the bleachers of the Friday Night lights, is an exception), good time lyrics and typically a good chunk of heartache. The single "Middle of a Memory" echoes some of the ideas of the opening "Flatliner," a girl melting his heart on the dance floor after but one minute into their first dance. Easy come. Easy go.

Life's apparently been tough for Swindell. On the ballad "Broke Down," it's an old Tim McGraw song that does him in while driving his Chevy truck with the worthy lyric "Baby I'm broke down and it ain't the truck this time." This time, though, Swindell's ready to give up the hard stuff: "Cause I'm sitting here knowing what its gonna take to fix me/It ain't a bar, ain't the beer, it ain't the whiskey."

Swindell follows suit of many of his country contemporaries with doctored vocals ("Party Wasn't Over," written with the Florida Georgia Line boys and Canaan Smith), thick drum beats and programming. And Swindell gets docked points for name checking George Strait. Swindell and Strait have pretty much nothing in common musically.

The best song - "No Can Left Behind" - comes late. It's about as close as Swindell will come to a honky tonker (despite the drum thwacking). Yeah, it's about drinking (again), but it sure got the beat and makes you at least smile to the "No child left behind" idea. He follows with acoustic closer "Remember Boys" about how to treat a woman (a bit old fashioned to say the least), but the tenderness musically and lyrically is in sharp contrast to the rest.

Too bad there isn't more like that because pretty quick, it's very clear what Swindell is about - drinking, drinking and more drinking and chicks. With commercial songs designed to keep Swindell atop the charts, more variety would have gone a long way because after awhile, it's hard to keep chillin'.