Greg Norton – “Playing With Fire”

 Greg Norton – “Playing With Fire”

Greg Norton – “Playing With Fire” – Single Review

Ayyyy!  It’s that down to earth everyman, Greg Norton, who also just happens to possess the superpowers of an all-star musican/songwriter – that guy!  Surely you remember the man from previous singles we’ve reviewed here at the homepage over the past couple years like “Echoes,” “Complicate Me,” and most recently, “Spider Man” from the beginning of 2024.  Or perhaps you remember us talkin’ about him on an episode of the SBS Podcast back in February – he’s been all over these pages of ours I tell ya.  For good reasons, I assure ya.  Dude’s got a whole lot of talent, and one of the greatest things about him is his consistency.  Whenever Greg shows up, you can rest assured he’ll be bringing a quality tune along with him.  Overall, I get the feeling it’s a quality over quantity thing with Mr. Norton here, and I respect that.  How many bands and artists tend to water their material down by constantly pushing out new content without the attention to detail you really wanna find as listeners?  In this day & age, their numbers are MANY – so heck yeah, I’m cool with a guy like Greg that might take a minute or two longer in the process.  His results have always proven that whole adage about preparation meeting opportunity to be true…I listen to a song like “Playing With Fire” and can hear the effort he puts into what he creates, just like I have in every single that I’ve heard from this guy so far.  Consistency, 100%.

We’re talkin’ about execution, mind you.  Obviously when it comes to personal taste and what people will think about this or that, no one out there is ever crackin’ the bat at 100% so much as every artist is effectively always batting a thousand against the court of public opinion, know what I mean?  All you can ever do is control the controllables; as long as you’re doin’ that, you give yourself the armor you need to fight off comments and criticisms that merely reflect an opinion.  Maybe someone doesn’t like Rock music…it’d be hard to win them over with a Rock song, right?  You get the opportunity to tune out the noise by ensuring the quality of your execution is as good as it gets…that’s what I’m saying, and that’s what it sounds like Greg should be able to do with any dissenting opinions, should any arise.  For the most part, I think the guy’s on tremendously solid ground with “Playing With Fire” – it’s technically bulletproof if we’re talkin’ about the execution you’ll find in the instrumentation and Norton’s vocals.

For real y’all…Greg’s dialed into the kind of music he wants to make, and he’s extremely effective when he hits songs like “Playing With Fire” with that special dose of crossover sound.  It’s Rock, yes – but there’s no missing the Country-Rock edge that this song has to it.  What makes this great is that the balance you wanna find is there…it’s not too Rock, it never leans too hard into the Country influence, it’s got the perfect way of meeting in the middle to deliver an experience that should easily satisfy fans of both those genres.  You could argue there’s a bit of an Alt-Rock twist to the sound of the verses, and I’ll listen to that if you wanna go down that road…that’d be a valid comment – but you can’t mistake the fusion between Rock/Country when you get to the chorus of “Playing With Fire.”  Ultimately, I’m all for stuff like that in the sense that I believe hybrids can make a real impact and appeal to an even larger audience.  So check that for a win for Greg, the versatility of “Playing With Fire” and how many different playlists a track like this could squeeze onto gives this single some major advantages all due to its design.

Musically, I’m nothing but impressed with this tune and again feel like the quality, in that regard, should be something we easily all agree on universally.  The verses have noteworthy hooks and a very slick melody driving’em.  The chorus ignites to add a significant new energy to “Playing With Fire” when it was needed, and the hooks become impossible to ignore.  Even the hooks have hooks y’all – you see what I’m gettin’ at?  Vocally, I felt like this came out flawlessly for Greg.  That doesn’t mean he’s entirely off the hook yet…stay tuned and keep reading…but if you’re asking me personally what he could have done any better than he’s doin’ it, I’d come up pretty dry for an answer to that in terms of his execution all-around from start to finish, from the music to the microphone.  And that’s what I’ve been tryin’ to tell ya folks…a flawless tune is by no means any kind of small accomplishment – it’s a huge achievement and should outweigh any random comment about what someone likes or what they don’t.  The FACTS speak for themselves, that’s what I’m saying…”Playing With Fire” is truly seamless, straight up, full stop.

So what on Earth am I gonna complain about then, right?  There’s always SOMETHING to be said, isn’t there?  Who would I be if I didn’t poke, prod, and challenge the artists and bands that come through here just a little bit?  Of course I’ve still got something else to say about this new Norton single…

Not so much anything other than just a bit of a challenge to him is all.  Like I said, a flawless song is a huge achievement – if you don’t feel like you need to be challenged beyond creating something at the caliber of “Playing With Fire” – heck – I’d be the first to feel like that’s justified, and you can hang your hat comfortably knowing you crushed it, end of story.  That being said…if you’re into the idea that we always have something we can improve on – and even better, if you know that’s a GOOD THING – then sure, I think we can encourage Greg to continue to dig deeper with his songwriting craft.  You can look at a song like “Playing With Fire” from two perspectives:  One is that it’s essentially using the blueprint of bulletproof songwriting, and the other is that it’s essentially using the blueprint of bulletproof songwriting.  You see what I did there?  It’s the exact same sentence, but it’s how you say it in your head that makes the difference and dear readers, dear friends, that part is all up to you.  But what I’m getting at is this – the design is certainly familiar to the point where that’s an advantage…people will be able to easily get into the hooks of “Playing With Fire.”  The disadvantage is that same exact thing…it’s harder to argue that Norton’s got something that’ll set him completely apart from the rest, or that it’s not actually an example of perhaps playing it too safe – you see what I mean?  It can be both things, and it is here.

You can create a flawless song that might not make as much of an impact as it should if you play things too safe – that’s where you’re really “Playing With Fire” as an artist.  Thematically, again, it’s a matter of how many tunes a person has listened to in one lifetime, but for myself, I know that the concept of “Playing With Fire” is definitely an idea that has been explored more times than any of us can count.  So there’s risk involved when you go a familiar route…that’s where you can slip right into any playlist, but you can also have a harder time establishing the kind of recognizable identity that links your name to the song.  As in, people might hear “Playing With Fire” and even love it too – but it’s hard to feel like we KNOW this is a Greg Norton song without feeling like it could also be a hundred other dudes or bands that created this single.  It’s up to him as to how important that is or that isn’t – all I’m saying is that a little more focus on keeping things as unique as possible can help keep the art of songwriting more fresh for artists in the long run.  I also look at things like, “Playing With Fire” and know that the theme/words imply some DANGER goin’ on too…and that’s where the impeccable control of Norton’s musicianship can potentially become a barrier…it’s concepts like this that give you a bit of artistic license to have a performance that echoes the meaning of the words, you follow me?  As in, while Greg’s singing about dangerous and tricky situations in “Playing With Fire,” we actually feel calm through his professionalism instead.  I do think that the energy comes through well in the transition from verse to chorus though, and that could be more than enough to keep people onboard without feeling like they needed more of a raw or edgy performance to go with this kind of theme.  There’s room for Greg to continue to evolve and really bring the meaning of his words into the song, as opposed to just singin’em perfectly – make sense?  Don’t get me wrong – I am not complainin’ about a thing when it comes to “Playing With Fire,” just observing as objectively as I normally do.  All-in-all, he’s got all the right pieces in all the right places, and I’d be the first to tell ya that any degree of familiarity can be a real asset to getting a song heard by the masses out there.  I’m that thoughtful music critic that thinks about YOU TOO though, the creators, and what might keep y’all interested and engaged with your music throughout the years – so of course if I see or hear some opportunities to help encourage evolution in the art or someone like Greg to reach that next level, you know I’m gonna say it.  Make no mistake though – songs like “Playing With Fire” reveal exactly how good he’s getting when it comes to delivering the kind of entertainment in music that people truly love…all things considered, having the kind of superhuman skills he has and his uncanny ability to connect to his audience through them, is quite likely as rewarding as anything could ever be.

Find out more about Greg Norton from his official website at:

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