Archives: The Swon Brothers ‘Pray For You’ – Single Review
This article was first published on November 7th, 2014 on forthecountryrecord.com.
The Swon Brothers obviously sought to add to their credibility and deepen their subject matter coming off the top 20 hit ‘Later On’. While a fairly innocuous country pop hit, it did use standard party anthem and infatuation fare and perhaps they wanted to distinguish themselves from the bro pack. I wouldn’t blame them; after all, it still looks like bro-country is on its way out as a trend and synth pop is slowly edging its way into the mix. Also, they don’t really have the image or the gravitas to pull off the machismo of such a style, and my sense is, working with Carrie Underwood’s producer Mark Bright, they wanted to toe the line between commercial material from a male act that’s hitting on radio, as well as producing country pop music that digs a little further into stories and emotions.
From what I hear in Jess’ review of the album, much of their songs grapple with that challenge. ‘Pray For You’ certainly goes for a more meaningful subject matter than drinking and having sex, and instead targets somebody they know who is having a hard time and maybe making some regrettable mistakes. With the implications on perceived sins, they state they will not judge the person, just simply love them and pray for them, and this can be taken in two ways. On the one hand, within the context of someone addicted to drugs or alcohol for example, it can be an incredibly loving, freeing approach that puts trust in a higher power to look after the person and guide them in the right direction. On the other hand, my personal proximity to the gay community and my own lack of faith throws up suspicion. It is a well-known fact that Christians intolerant of sexualities that deviate from the “norm” of man and woman will attempt to pray for those people, and will even go so far as to try a form of tolerance by stating it is not their place to judge. I will not go into the issues here, and I am aware my own situation informs my bias on interpretation, but it still can be a lyric manipulated into people interfering with someone’s way of life, whether that be chosen or born unto them, and thus I sometimes struggle with the wording used.
That said, I do believe it was written and recorded in innocence. It doesn’t come across devious from the source, and even though I am not Christian myself the sentiment of keeping someone in your prayers, or in your thoughts is a caring one. The narrator admits he has been in dark places in the past and offers his sympathies for the person’s situation, as well as suggesting that God will provide the light at the end of the tunnel. Surprisingly enough the music does not form as much of a ballad as I was expecting; rather it is similarly upbeat to ‘Later On’, and equally filled with a variety of pop-orientated guitar sounds in addition to drum loops and synths. It is only on the chorus that things take more of a traditional ballad turn, but even then there is still a hefty backing behind the vocals. It is clearly designed to be an arm-swaying, uplifting track that encourages as much singing along and fist-pumping as it does soul-touching and maybe even a few tears. The pair sing it with decent conviction and I suspect it will be a bigger hit than ‘Later On’ purely for the more unique subject matter compared to their peers, alongside having a radio-friendly base. Released in conjunction with Carrie Underwood’s ‘Something In The Water’, one of her most successful singles to date, the religious theme returning could go massively in their favor, and this is a nice enough stab at how country music should sound in 2014.