Cayllee Hammack fascinated the German fans with her 2020 C2C appearances in Berlin. On 14th August 2020, she released her debut album If It Wasn’t For You. You definitely could expect a great record. Here are my thoughts about it.
Caylee Hammack – About The Artist
Caylee Anna Hammack was born on 17th March 1994 in Ellaville, Georgia. She started quite late with music, at the age of 13. It primarily looked as she would rather make a career in sports, as she was a talented tennis player, but a tumor surgery slowed that down. At that age of 15, after two years of self-educating in music, she wrote her first song Addictive. After turning down an initial music scholarship which would have made her move to Nashville due to a relationship, Luke Bryan finally persuaded her to come to Music City. She was sleeping in her car during her first performances. Redhead, which is part of If It Wasn’t For You, has been written during that period.
Even though the critics loved her and saw an emerging artist in her, it took her until 2019 to release her debut single, Family Tree, which made it to the 40th spot in the US Country Charts.
Caylee Hammack – If It Wasn’t For You – Track by Track
The album includes 13 tracks and lasts 40 minutes.
1. Just Friends
Musical faking: while the first tunes of this track feel like a very slow and melancholic, the guitars are just starting their play after thirty second. Just Friends turns to a very groovy track – but likely you know that already anyway – the first song of the album is already more than one year old…
2. Redhead (feat. Reba McEntire)
When this duet has been released some weeks ago, I immediately fet a crush for Redhead. Just a damn cool song. Great one!
3. Looking for a Lighter
Today I turned twenty-three
Finally catching up with my old fake ID
I just found it in the kitchen drawer
Full of sentimental things
That I don’t need anymore
But still I’m searching through coupons and keys
Dead flowers and figurines and old letters from you
Damning the memories I rifle through
When I’m looking for a lighter
This song is the first one I did not know due to previous release. Ain’t that a beauty in storytelling. The song itself is a rather slow, very simply orchestrated song with an acoustic recording touch. Caylee Hammack creates an amazing atmosphere in this song.
Preciatcha has a quite modern, groovy, rhythmic sound. Another track which has already been released in 2019, definitely a track which gave a certain focus on Caylee Hammack. Great to explore the very different interpretations and atmospheres so far.
Sister connects to the tracks before in a quite nice – even though the chorus feels to be comparably bold and dominant. Another tracks, which just makes you listen to the stories Hammack is telling. It is never a bad sign when you want to listen to the whole story of a song.
6. Just Like You
The way Hammack is prolonging the sound of you at the end of verses just gives a young, fresh, cheeky touch. I do not like when country songs’ verses feel too much like a hip hop track (which is just too popular Nashville style currently…), but Just Like You has so many melodic and even powerful-to-angry elements that I just enjoy listening to the song.
7. King Size Bed
King Size Bed sounds like a modern rock track to me. The country elements are just very mimimal – this however leads to a very catchy, sing-along, powerful track, which also has a quite exceptional and special role in the If It Wasn’t For You album.
8. Forged in the Fire
Forged In the Fire was something like a last commercial try – some new Nashville tradition I don’t really understand: the song was released before the album. You may judge yourself if that is smart commercial behavior or a shameless rip-off on the fan. Finally, it is an illustration that albums do not play a major commercial role.
The song itself is slightly on the softer side, but definitely a good listen.
9. Family Tree
Close to 2 million streams on YouTube only – let’s call this one Caylee Hammack’s “Classic” one and don’t use too many words on this great track – you know it already anyhow… And you will give it any love you can give without my thoughts as well.
10. Mean Something (feat. Ashley McBryde, Tenille Townes)
Having a trio with Hammack, Ashley McBryde and Tenille Townes is indeed a great line-up.
Ain’t we all just tryin’ to mean something, mean something
Ain’t we all just tryin’ to be something to somebody else
The world’s begging for change
And we get carried away helping ourselves
Ain’t we all just tryin’ to mean something, mean something
Ain’t we all just tryin’ to be something, be something
I simply love that sound. It is very soft, harmonic – not a rockin’ slammer which you might expect if you make Hammack and McBryde share the stage (or the recording studio).
11. Small Town Hypocrite
Small Town Hyprocrite was a big single for Hammack in February and March 2020. It may start a bit slow, but with the chorus latest, it turns to a very catchy song. Nice!
Gold is more like an interlude. An acoustic, raw recording, 1:46 minutes in duration, just a few lines of lyrics. Gold gets a bit more dramatic towards the end, but overall, I have to say I don’t need that one.
13. New Level of Life
The album finishes with a new track: New Level of Life is modern, cheeky and groovy track. I have to say that I feel it is a good track, but does not feel too special if you see it in the group of all thirteen tracks on the album. Still, a musical sum-up of Hammack’s talent.
Caylee Hammack – If It Wasn’t For You – Spotify
Here is the Spotify widget for If It Wasn’t For You:
Caylee Hammack – If It Wasn’t For You – My View
I read a lot of outstanding reviews of the album. No doubt, it is a great listen and it spotlights Hammack’s talent But especially towards the end of the album, it feels a bit too thin to me. There are no surprises, the best tracks of the album are songs we know for almost one year. It feels more like a sumup of Hammack’s success between 2018 and 2020 than a statement that she will even be bigger in 2021 and later. Good, but not promising!
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