Album Review: Sometimes

Sometimes, by Jamie O’Neal

Jamie O’Neal was, at least for a little while, a moderately popular country singer with hits like “There Is No Arizona” and “When I Think About Angels.” But if her music was certainly decent, she didn’t catch on for long in the American country scene, and a long gap existed, where there were cancelled albums and label difficulties and all the usual fates of artists who do not sell well and have problems having their albums released by labels reluctant about spending money on promotion to try to gain back what has already been sunk in advances and recording costs. So it was that by 2020, two decades after she had been a fresh-faced young country singer seeking to make a mark, that she returned with the aptly titled “Sometimes,” in which the singer provides eight new songs (perhaps evidence of a bit of writer’s block, or perhaps the inability of an artist not selling well to get the best songs written for her by others), along with four re-recordings of earlier and more popular songs to make it more appealing of a prospect to release for a label looking to at least break even. Is it any good? Let’s take a listen.

The album begins with “Wreck Me,” a song where Jamie invites her lover to wreck her, in a song that tries to make cliches about tearing down walls and damages and threats sound sweet and romantic, with at least enjoyable production even if the lyrics are a bit basic. “There Is No Arizona 2.0,” with Lauren Alaina follows, and it’s pretty inessential, fairly similar to the original, which is a song I already think of as being a bit overrated and not really the right attitude. “Closer To Closure” is well-produced, but has the same sort of misandry that makes me a bit lukewarm to her work in general, painting herself as being full of righteous anger in a break-up situation that is probably more even than this song reveals. “Somebody’s Sometimes,” featuring John Paul White, is yet another song where Jamie bemoans an unreliable lover, seeking to portray the situation as one that justifies her righteous anger and bitterness and disappointment, making this a frustratingly one-night aspect to an album. “Somebody’s Hero 2.0,” featuring Aliyah Good, is another inessential remake, but is a lovely enough song that is better than the average one here at least. “Spin The Bottle” is a driving song that presents a familiar, but not particularly unwelcome, piece of cautionary advice about problem drinking that is certainly a standout among the new songs here. “Jealousy” then follows, with another song that seeks to put a positive spin on the narrator’s own character flaws, trying to blame them on a green-eyed monster instead of owning up to her own issues, though at least here she recognizes that she pushes people away, rather than assuming them to be worthless, so that is an improvement. “Trying To Find Atlantis 2.0,” featuring Sara Evans, contains more complaining about the difficulty of finding a good man, which is far harder when one is a bad woman, as appears to be the problem here. Given the monotonous tone of this album, generally with its hostility to men, it is hard to find much enjoyment in old songs that go over the same ground even less originally than the new songs in many cases. “Sometimes It’s Too Late” finds the singer in a regretful mood about a relationship that has ended, but where things went wrong but where they went too far to be fixed. This is a relatable mood, but an inevitable one given the unearned bitterness expressed so often elsewhere in this album. There is sowing and there is reaping, and this song is what one reaps after sowing the wrong sentiments. “Prettiest Wreck” is pretty much in line with the general dysfunction that one finds on this album, but by showing some self-awareness about the singer’s own problems and viewing it with humor, it is at least enjoyable to listen to. “When I Think About Angels 2.0,” featuring Martina McBride, is another unnecessary cover, but at least it’s a good song that cuts against the dominant mood of the album, and that makes it welcome here. The last song of the album, “The World Goes On,” puts the album and its tempests in a teapot into a wise perspective, that whatever one’s own personal or professional drama, the world continues to go on regardless, and one need not feel despair even if things are not going well.

This album has the feel of a long-delayed project that simply lacked inspiration. It is unclear where this lack of inspiration came from, and I do not wish to speculate, but given that the album contains two new songs out of eight that involve “wreck” and contains four re-recorded previous, it is clear that writing this album was a chore. Unfortunately, listening to this album is a chore as well, especially given the way that the album tries to balance songs that heap undeserved abuse on men and other songs that bemoan their absence and the alienating and jealous tendencies of the singer that drive men away. Like a great many disappointing and frustrating albums from contemporary women, though, it does not appear as if the self-awareness of the singer registers as a need to change one’s behavior to avoid the same dysfunctional patterns repeating themselves over and over again. There is reluctant recognition but no change, no growth, just spinning one’s wheels literally singing the same exact songs over and over again. What a waste.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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