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The Cadillac Three (Feat. Florida Georgia Line, Dierks Bentley, Mike Eli), ‘The South’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

The South
Big Machine Records

With ‘The South,’ the Cadillac Three make many of the other rock-inspired country artists seem as aggressive as a Beanie Baby. Their debut single would land squarely in the rock n’ roll genre 40 years ago, but time has blurred those lines. The proper response to answer cries of “That ain’t real country” is to turn the volume of this jam up louder … and louder … and louder.

Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Marshall Tucker Band are going to be the obligatory comparisons for this trio of modern southern rockers led by Jaren Johnston, but really what they’ve done is stretch boundaries recently set by Brantley Gilbert and Eric Church (although ‘The Outsiders’ goes further).

Lyrically, it’s difficult to argue this message doesn’t fit our lifestyle: “Boots and buckles, red clay and sand / My point ain’t subtle here, I’m a Southern man / Where the beer seems colder and the women seem hotter / Where the world don’t seem so damn modern / A good ole boy like me still has a chance.”

The last line of that first verse is particularly effective. The difference between this song and so many others released in the last 24 months is that ‘The South’ has depth, even if it’s repetitive. Expect this chorus to become an anthem for 2014, once fans figure out all the words.

“It’s all about the south / Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Carolina / Don’t you want to get down (and dirty) / Cause Florida I’m thirsty / Hit me with your Tennessee whiskey and crank it up loud / Laid up back, crazy ole …. / Sweet magnolia … / Even if you’re up north / Come on down, come on down / It’s all about the south.”

The second verse only adds a line about Don Williams and Patsy Cline — odd choices for such a rebellious, guitar-driven cut — but by then you’re running on adrenaline. Johnston’s voice is suited for grungy honky tonks with more beer soaked into the carpet and spilled on the dance floor than poured into pints on any Saturday night.

Fans of modern rock will think Kings of Leon, and that’s fair. The difference is the straight-forward, yet still meaningful songwriting.

Key Lyrics: “This is where I was born and this is where I’ll die”

Did You Know?: While this track is a rocker, Johnston has proven he has a sensitive side. Among his recent co-writes are ‘You Gonna Fly’ and ‘Raise ‘Em Up’ for Keith Urban, ‘Sing ‘Em Good My Friend’ for Kenny Chesney, ‘Days of Gold’ for Jake Owen and ‘Southern Girl’ for Tim McGraw.

Listen to the Cadillac Three, ‘The South’

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Next: The Top 40 Country Songs for November 2013

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