Attempting to find chart success a few years removed from his smash hit “Stealing Cinderella,” Chuck Wicks applies his smooth vocals to the nostalgic new tune “Old School” with mostly positive results.
Holding true to his non-rural leanings, Wicks recounts youthful frivolity in the late ’80s from a decidedly suburban perspective. There are no trucks, no bonfires, no cow-tipping excursions. These memories are all from within the city limits, and with most country fans these days residing somewhere near a Gigi’s Cupcakes and a Chipotlé, that’s a pretty smart idea. Both college kids of the ’80s and their kids (who are now enjoying university life) will find something in this track to relate to, whether it’s hanging out at the local hotel pool or shooting Jager.
There’s very little new under the sun, and these reminiscing songs tend to run together, so “Old School’s” fresh angle is welcome. But is the song any good?
Surprisingly, for me at least, it’s not bad. Wicks’ delivery is mellow and expressive, revealing an understated affection for days gone by. He inhabits the song with natural ease, despite the fact that he was not yet 10 years old in the song’s set era.
The song itself is an unhurried R&B meets pop-country tune, not far removed from some of Alabama’s more soulful cuts a la “Dancin’, Shaggin’ on the Boulevard,” making it a fitting partner for its subtly wistful lyrical content.
Old School’s main deficiency is its general lack of a hook. The chorus is pretty much just an extension of the verse, continuing the inventory of period-specific events and thoughts. The title/hook is merely an afterthought here, a one-phrase summary of the narrative, offering nary a memorable change of melody.
It’s still a pretty enjoyable song, if not groundbreaking. With its municipality of yore details hewing close to Wicks’ own persona, “Old School” feels authentic despite his youth. Its subtle conveyance of sentimentality is also engaging amidst a multitude of over-dramatized odes to yesteryear on today’s radio.
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