Donica Knight – Can’t Buy A Southern Girl – EP Review
Who? Who keeps doing this to me? And why?
There is a massive price to be paid for honesty – but keep in mind that’s not a part of the cheque that I ever get to see, I just facilitate the process. Someone out there is getting paid on my opinion…no clue who it might be…but let’s face it – no one that loves and respects me is continually sending me Country music as any kind of favor or treat to me – this person knows they’re borderline torturing me each time I have to redden-up my neck, fire-up m’pick-up truck and drag myself into the mud to try & enjoy some music I’m predisposed to not even like. So truly dudes…whomever you Country-sending folks are – thanksbutnothanks, sorrynotsorry – you KNOW this isn’t my genre & enough is enough, okay?
The only saving grace is that, whoever is responsible…at the very least seems to know better than to waste my time or yours with what they send. The ranting above is simply from the perspective of a guy that’s been on his deathbed for about seventy-two hours now and REALLY doesn’t want to get out of it for a Country music record of any kind, no matter how good it might be. I’m honest about it…I feel like crap…I haven’t posted for three days…and I can barely see straight. So let’s REALLY pour it on and add some Country music into that mix and really make me take my medicine. Bleh. Thanks.
Were it anything other than Donica Knight – I have a feeling this would have gone much, much worse. I’ll admit – the very first moments of the Can’t Buy A Southern Girl EP were more than likely going to dictate just how willing I’d be to continue on and write this, or if it was time to really head back to bed and pull the covers over my head once and for all. I’m here. Words are coming out. Music is being heard…Donica’s music…so if I was you I’d at least assume she was able to make a strong impression quickly, or I’d just be outta here today and go a fourth day in a row without posting.
While there is not likely an artist on earth that will ever fully convert me to being a Country music fan – it’s not secret to me that some of these cowpokes certainly make their music better than others. Donica is one of those for sure. I was completely attracted to the bold confidence she immediately starts the record with on “Love Ain’t A Prize.” From that moment on…I think I started to wake up a little…again – I’m not going to claim I’m sitting here in my cowboy boots and hat just waiting for my moment to bust into a line-dance – but I’m never going to be dishonest with you either. Donica Knight completely has the goods and you can hear that immediately with the strong tones in her voice as she injects an energy into the opening of her new EP that works better than a strong coffee. No joke…I’ve been in a near-coma for three days now…I might not have been hoping for Country music to start the comeback out of it, but as long as it’s what’s playing, it may as well be good stuff.
Just as you think she might be every bit as top-shelf as I’m implying…she tries to dirty it all up on her own with “Acting Like A Lady,” looking for the cheap tequila in a Friday-night setting. I liked the additional horns that jumped into the music on this one, which filled it out a little more towards that rock-side of Country music, where our hero in question, Ms. Knight seems at her most comfortable. “Acting Like A Lady” is a little more typical in its presentation, style and sound than any other on the record really…it borrows a lot from the party-atmosphere of the genre and so will “Party In My Dream” as the EP heads towards the middle. It’s party Country-music for sure through and through…I suspect you’ll just have to pardon me personally if I’m not dropping the balloons myself over here in mutual celebration. You can look at it as one of two things:
- The songs are written so well, that they’re flawless.
- The songs have basically been written flawlessly so many times, that these have come out very well.
I’m not saying that Donica Knight doesn’t have anything new to offer you…but I’ll certainly stand by the fact that she’ll make you work for it. If you make it to “Blinded By Love” – you’ll find her and her identity break through a little more…up until that point – it’s all good yes, but I’m not so convinced it’s anything you haven’t already heard so many, many times before. Again – extremely well performed – I love the bold enthusiasm and strength in the vocals and music…but the writing itself seems somewhat redundant to the genre in many ways on “Acting Like A Lady” and “Party In My Dream” and left me wanting to hear a little more of the REAL Donica Knight within the songs that SHE is making.
And for what it’s worth – I felt like I got that on “Blinded By Love.” Hell – I felt like I really got it as well in the EP’s final tune “Stomp” – but up til that point I think the writing was relying largely on proven elements of the genre’s writing that are already assumed to pass the mark.
Do you know WHY your grandmother never made the same soup from scratch twice? Because even she knew to mix it up or you’d know what to expect every time and potentially get bored with it. Luckily the impact of a new artist and her vocal-skills get Donica past the sea-of-sameness with those first three tunes and she opens-up a ton more over the final two tracks to really bring this EP home. Make no mistake…if you’re looking to party and you don’t mind what’s already been done – you might find more in those first three tunes than I personally did…I’m far removed from anything in ‘party mode’ right now here in my near-death blanket wrapped up & freezing cold in the middle of the warming of Springtime. Speaking of my grandma’s soup…I could really go for some of that right now…
Perhaps later…right now, like it or lump it…I’ve got a lot of assignments on the go, music to listen to, videos to make and reviews to review…so I’ll be here for the afternoon one way or the other. I like to think that Donica is turning it around for me with “Blinded By Love” – I think that’s a fantastic tune that really has her at her maximum strength for melody, tone and delivery. It’s a gorgeous song, somewhat unique to the country-sound by straddling the fence of that wide-open range on a border with like…Huey Lewis And The News…that kind of rock-sound. A little bit big-band, a little bit rock, a little bit pop through the catchiness of the hooks…doesn’t really matter which genre you’d feel a song like this truly belongs to – she sings this one like she’s got every right to be here and ready to make the most of this moment…and I love that. I think that the strides made in effort to find something a little more defining, a little more unique here at the end of the record pay off really well for Donica here in “Blinded By Love” – and I think she’ll take that confidence and cleverness into the final track “Stomp” as well.
In what becomes in my opinion, the best representation of Donica’s overall sound – “Stomp” is the exact ending I needed to bring me around and really perk my attention up. As much as I might personally enjoy “Blinded By Love” and feel like that is a song that speaks to me more than any other on the record – I can also easily hear that “Stomp” combines the very best of what she does from the writing, to the performance, from the party-girl to the serious career-musician. You get a little piece of it all here in this final tune…and I really appreciated this combination of sound from Donica.
You can give her as much credit as you want to…just keep in mind I never once turned this off! I deserve a little too don’t I? I mean…the moment Country music begins and I’m ten-times as sick as I’d ever wish my worst enemy to be…and I don’t crawl back under the covers and instead turn UP the volume…doesn’t that at least deserve a little recognition too?
Nah. It doesn’t. Even I know that. These holes in my head are open for any kind of sound to jump into them and they’ve rarely closed up shop, no matter how brutally sick I’ve been over the past four years. Three days might be one of the longer stretches I’ve gone without a posting in sometime with the exception of the recent move across Canada. I’m glad I roused myself enough to be able to have a real listen and quality set of spins through Donica Knight’s perspective on Country music. While I’m not sure the first half of the EP really defines her sound…I think that she does a lot to fix that issue over the final two tracks…and regardless of whether or not these songs become truly identifiable to her specifically – I can pretty safely guarantee if you’re a fan of the genre, you’ll love’em.
I’d personally suspect and assume that with what I’ve heard in the final two tracks of the Can’t Buy A Southern Girl EP that Donica is on the right path. Lord knows that someone with the amount of talent she has, there are going to be TONS of songwriters lining up to USE her voice – and I mean that exactly how I’ve written it. She’ll have to seek to control that…because each and every one of those songwriters that aren’t her are going to bring exactly that into her music, every time – a sound that’s not hers. With her stunning vocals…believe it or not, the first thing Nashville would try to do with her is homogenize the crap out of her voice and have her singing other people’s songs in constant party-mode with little to no personal connection to a damn thing we’d hear…if she LETS them.
That’s the key right there and that’ll be the most interesting thing to learn and listen to when it comes to the future music of Donica Knight. Will she cave-in to the pressure of the industry and just start singing the Country-music barn-burners and Bud-light hits of the week – or will she really find her voice and tell the rest of the writers to take a break…cause she’s GOT this? This EP makes it a little tough to tell…I think you get a glimpse of the response to the pressure, but I also think you get a real good look at a more defiant & bold breakthrough towards the end of the record as well. I think Donica’s a very gifted singer…one with a great head for music upon those Country-rockin’ shoulders – and I truly think that if she puts her mind to it, she can easily separate herself from the rest of the pack out there and become a household name quickly through the incredible qualities in her writing and voice that make her unique.
Find out more about Donica Knight at her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/donica.knight
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