Growing up we are reminded at every meal not to bite off more than we can chew. Simply put, it is because we’ll choke and overwhelm ourselves. Just like a slice of pizza on a pie, one song on an album can tell a lot about what the rest will be like. The artist either creates a masterpiece that allows fans to swallow the entire pie, or they burn the crust thus tainting most of the whole. For a man who devoured his competition on Season 11 of “The Voice”, Sundance Head‘s disappointing first single may cause his listeners to choke on his upcoming album.
“How I Want to Be” is a startling indicator that Head bit off too much of the pie on his plate. The song was originally produced in 2010 on his self-titled album, but Head has since made some tragic adjustments. He removed the original grand piano, organ, and gospel choir. In their places, he composed a wonderful folksier/soul melody, but with agonizingly slow tempos and dull harmonies.
Among a melodious violin and a folk/rock acoustic guitar, Head dedicates this love song (presumably) to his wife. The lyrics give her many thanks and blessings as they reveal his hope to “spend the rest of [his] life alone with [her]” for all the love and support she has given him. Compared to previous live performances and recordings, Head’s annunciation is surprisingly clear. Furthermore, his lyrics carry the same emotional depth and breadth that all his quality songs, like “Darlin’ Don’t Go”, possess. Like I said, however, the message of this single is not one of the underlying issues.
Head has made a name for himself in recent years through his enormous, powerful belting and stellar navigation in his rhythms. These two strengths are the precise components that are missing on “How I Want to Be”.
The opening verse sounds flawless with its steady tempo. Backed by violins and a guitar, Head beautifully opens the song at an appropriate pace. His chorus section- the prime meat of every pie- is where everything falls apart. In the span of just 3 seconds, Head and his female background vocals sing “I want to spend the rest of my life in this place alone with you”, which feels completely rushed and disconnected from the true meaning of this song. When I think of a serenade or a peaceful tune to dance to, everything needs to flow smoothly and gracefully. By cramming in mouthfuls of words in ⅓ of the time he could actually take, Head devalues the melody, message, and the mood he is trying to establish.
Furthermore, as he and the background singers speed up the lyrics, the music behind them is still just as slow as in the verses. This juxtaposition of the delivery speed with the instrumentals does not flow, nor does it create the upbeat romance that the original melody created. If all of that were not unfortunate enough, he and the singers have an extremely bland harmony that doesn’t jive or sound soulful.
This cycle of incongruent tempos improves gradually as the single develops into the second verse and final choruses. However, the quantity of the lyrics are still too large to fit into the tiny bars of music Head wrote. His knife cut too big of a slice and his instrumentals and singers simply cannot swallow it.
For a man celebrated for his vocal arsenal, Sundance Head really let me down with “How I Want to Be”. He tarnished the original composition he created 7 years ago and replaced it with an inconsistent rhythm and bland harmonies. If this is a sign of what’s to come, maybe Republic Records should get Billy Gilman his record deal.
Country l Republic Records