Lead singer Tim Gates sounds pleasant, if not overly distinctive — somewhat of a cross between Mark Miller and a much mellower Brad Mates. While those two names would certainly bring to mind the slick sounds of Sawyer Brown and Emerson Drive, "When the Smoke Clears" is pleasantly traditional-sounding. It's a slow waltz with steel and piano, with maybe a little gratuitous string section at the end. Oh, and the lyrics are quite unabashedly "country". In the first verse, the narrator is confronted by a man who tries to convince him not to cheat, and the expression of that thought is quite clever ("I understand wedding bands get heavy sometimes / But don't cross that line"). Come the second verse, the other man reveals some details about the wife he used to have — specifically, they had a three-year-old son who is now 25 and completely unaware of his father's existence. It's this kind of detail that gives the song more reality and emotional depth.
Every now and then, some indie act manages to defy the odds and worm its way onto radio playlists. Considering Sunny Sweeney's recent success with "From a Table Away", there might still be room for another dark-horse, traditional-sounding kind of hit. Even if it only becomes a hit on Music Row and GAC's video charts, it'll still be a hit no matter how you slice it.
Album Review: Forget The Miles
Video: "When The Smoke Clears"
Lyrics: "When The Smoke Clears"