Archives: Michael Ray ‘Kiss You In The Morning’ – EP Review
This article was first published on May 23rd, 2015 on forthecountryrecord.com.
As has become a key part of any release season, here we have another frat boy signed to a major country label releasing an EP of generic material to support his boring lead single that has probably reached top 20, or something. Michael Ray belongs to Warner Music Nashville, and scored over 50 adds with ‘Kiss You In The Morning’ earlier in the year, thanks to its bland pop/rock sound and hugely repetitive lyric regarding a sexual come-on. That is the track leading his debut EP (released on April 28) and also giving it its name, proclaiming to be exclusive to Walmart. Of course, that’s ignoring the fact that on Spotify, YouTube and various other mediums an EP called ‘Tour Bootleg’ has been available since 2014, and features the exact same five tracks that the new EP does. No alternate versions. Just completely repackaged same old, same old.
Perhaps that isn’t fair. The ‘Kiss You In The Morning’ EP does include one other “exclusive” track – an acoustic version of the title track… which has been available on YouTube since last July. But you know, at least they just want to give fans another chance to hear great music, right? Eh, not so much. By this point I’ve heard more than enough of the droning of ‘Kiss Me In The Morning’ to last me a lifetime, so I certainly don’t need two versions, especially not one that tries too hard to be “country” with a token banjo. Michael’s version of Big & Rich’s current single ‘Run Away With You’ (which he co-wrote) also leaves much to be desired, with the already-vanilla track receiving little differing arrangement, and instead just being treated to a less-charismatic vocal delivery than Big & Rich’s “original”.
The remaining three tracks also blend seamlessly into each other. ‘Livin’ It Up’ has no smoke and mirrors to speak of, and makes no effort to remotely challenge the listener. With a melodramatic southern rock (albeit polished for radio) arrangement and a lyric literally filled with utter nonsense that probably details a “good time”, this is as simplistic as it gets, aside from perhaps Florida Georgia Line. ‘Tonight’s The Night’ opts for a more middle-of-the-road arena pop/rock sound about… you guessed it, a good time. About as distinctive as the factory conveyor belt from which it came.
To be fair on ‘Think A Little Less’, it’s probably sonically the best offering on the EP, although that’s not really saying a lot. With a more prominent banjo, pretty guitar work and a lovely little melody that combine for a palatable mid-tempo ballad, it’s just a shame that the lyrics fall down. They have potential in their narrative of asking a girl to take things one step further regardless of the consequences, but any romance is ruined by lines like “get you out of this bar, out of that dress,” and “when your friends start asking you to look them in the eye, tell a white lie, how I dropped you off at home and I walked you to the door, nothing more.” In fact, that last one is particularly creepy and implies sexual abuse if anything, considering the way predators will often tell their victims to keep things a secret. Perhaps the good intentions are there, but they are not carried out well and end up subsuming into the overall male-dominant, misogynistic narrative of bro-country.
Is Michael Ray a bro? In some ways, he isn’t, but then in others I don’t suppose it matters. He’s just another meat head with a bland voice singing generic songs that pander to radio, ones that I will not remember in ten minutes’ time.