“It Ain’t Me” by Hazel McQuade

Newcomer Hazel McQuade’s hot single It Ain’t Me doesn’t contain any of the flaws typical of a first-time effort. Whereas many emerging artists’ debuts suffer from a lack of fully formed clarity, or are still searching for a distinctive voice, McQuade already cements himself with a style and lyrical formation hopefully not just a one-off for a promising career.

McQuade’s vocals are unapologetically old South, sometimes going the extra mile to proudly overemphasize certain words in tightly coiled stanzas such as Your mama is your mama/But your daddy ain’t Me. There’s a distinctive, almost comedic element to the topics he tackles in the song – on their own nothing new, but sung with a harsh, even a little dangerous flippancy that threatens to overwhelm. This is helped by the song’s matter-of-fact, upbeat tempo and musical composition. It almost seems reminiscent of honky tonk in addition to its undeniable bluegrass roots, something Dwight Yoakam would tip his hat to or John Denver might give a shoutout at a concert. McQuade’s efforts on vocals also conjure up images of a late night on the prairie, or grabbing a cold one late Friday night. There’s an evocative homeyness to his performative presence that sets you at ease.

Many artists often try to emulate something with a history of success commercially. But McQuade seems more interested in trying to resurrect older and more forgotten stylistic traits through a marriage lyrically to more relevant and widespread subject matter. Country has had a strong Christian base, often espousing a certain set of values reminiscent of dignity, unity, and the incomparable tenets of Southern hospitality. Through the decades, various artists have played and provoked this formula, but McQuade takes it to the next level with his detailed and somewhat bawdy presentation, certified by the darkly humorous artwork on the single’s cover.

While he sports a brazen masculinity in how he conducts himself musically and communicatively, he simultaneously shepherds otherwise traditionalist sounding music into an intellectual appeal far outside the reaches of country listeners. Frankly it’s really kind of a neat combination. McQuade finds a way to sonically salute the old, while uniting the best the latter has to offer with a more stripped and bare bones dispensing.

APPLE MUSIC: https://music.apple.com/us/album/it-aint-me-single/980461052?i=980461270&ign-gact=3&ls=1

The song won’t be for everyone, as McQuade isn’t afraid to polarize. In a sociopolitical climate where even fans of art and entertainment are more divided than ever, he isn’t out to win consumer’s hearts and minds universally. But for those who yearn for simpler times, albeit with a distinctly modern edge, along with some good, old-fashioned soliloquies on manhood, living in the now, and flicking one’s earlobes at personal responsibility, It Ain’t Me proves solid, semi-disquieting fun.

Michael Rand

The music of Hazel McQuade has been heard all over the world in partnership with the radio plugging services offered by Musik and Film Radio Promotions Division.  Learn more https://musikandfilm.com

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