Ronnie Dunn - "Bleed Red"
By: Matt Bjorke
With a career that’d be the envy of many artists and in fact rivals that of stars like McGraw, Gill and Jackson (doesn’t that sound like some sort of Book Company or law firm?), Ronnie Dunn certainly has nothing to prove as the main voice of the popular two-decade of hit making act Brooks and Dunn. In fact, he could’ve simply packed up, headed to the nearest beach and relaxed. And yet, return he does, with the release of his first post-B&D solo single (he released two lower charting singles for a small label in the 80s).
Written by Tommy Lee James and Andrew Dorff, “Bleed Red” (Listen Here)is exactly as the press release suggested, it’s a powerful ballad with a message of inclusiveness and forgiveness. The melody kicks off with soft piano notes and then evolves into a melodic cascade of power balladry that, quite frankly, will not be loved by everyone who hears it but if people get passed themselves and the melody and really listen to the lyrics, I think that “Bleed Red” is the kind of song that can get people to at least think about their differences with others and – to steal a political term – reach across the aisle and work together to not only get along, but to get real hard things done.
Yes, the melody is big. Yes, the production probably could’ve been toned down a notch. Yes, there are other songs currently in the country music world (current hits even) that have similar melodic arcs. All of that is true yet this song – like “Believe” – has a passionate vocal delivery from one of the finest male vocalists in country music, it has a great lyrical message that really doesn’t ‘beat you over the head’ and that melody is darn pretty, even if twang is nowhere to be found in the song outside of Ronnie Dunn’s voice.
For people looking for a song that didn’t sound like a Brooks and Dunn song, this is an obvious and striking departure for the band and it’s one that’s sure to have its share of critics but even after a dozen or so listens as I am writing this review (at 2 am on Sunday, the day of it’s release), I cannot help but really like this song, an amazing feat in itself for if you were to go back in time to around 1999 and asked me who my least favorite country music artist was, I’d have said Brooks & Dunn. One more feeling I have about this song is how it will be (or at least an attempt will be made) to co-opt the song for political rallies throughout the country, particularly during the 2012 presidential campaign.
Whatever the end uses for this song, it’s certainly an impressive ‘true debut single’ from Ronnie Dunn and one that should have him getting immediate and continued airplay on country radio, after all he is the singer of some forty Top 10 hits and undoubtedly one of the biggest stars.