One of the biggest surprises for me this television season has been the success of Nashville (ABC, Wednesday nights at 10 PM). Not only as an entertaining TV show that incorporates both camp and drama, but as a captivating musical entity.
Apparently I have purchased 18 (!) songs from the Nashville Cast off of iTunes - here's a list of my favorites.
"If I Didn't Know Better" (Episode 1: Pilot)
This song, a cover of the Civil Wars, instantly put this show on the map. The subdued guitar allows Sam and Clare's voices to take center stage and inflect a lot of personality and emotion into the song. It's all slow burning chemistry and candlelight with a hint of subversive sadness. It works perfectly as a duet, each one willing the other to lead them into temptation.
"Love Like Mine" (Episode 1: Pilot)
The first song by Hayden Paniettiere's character Juliette Barnes, who is meant to be a Carrie Underwood/Taylor Swift hybrid (with a dash of Miranda Lambert thrown in). A catchy, clever break up song with smooth vocals.
"Twist Of Barbwire" (Episode 2: I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love With You))
Jonathan Jackson delivers this song with a subtle snarl. One of the few songs on the show that only barely touches in the country genre - it would really be more at home on rock radio circa the mid 90's, and trust me, that's a compliment. I've been a fan of his since the mid 90's and he has grown into one of the best vocalists on the show. The song is about when you are so embedded in someone, tangled in them, that you drag them through the coals, and by definition, drown yourself as well. When you drag someone down with you because you can never escape them. Viscerally sung with a slow, sexy delivery.
Little known fact: this song was written by Elvis Costello.
Or do you pray now 'cause I pray all the time
As the soul can't escape what the heart may disguise
Liar liar you're my last desire
Thought your kind of love was just a thorn of the rose
Tried hard to be faithful
Not hard enough I suppose
"Telescope" (Episode 2: I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love With You))
Another song by Hayden whose lyrics (and handclap beat and quick cadence) read exactly like the lead single off a new Carrie Underwood album. "Telescope" is the only song from Nashville that I've heard on the radio (Sirius XM's The Highway new country).
"Fade Into You" (Episode 3: Someday You'll Call My Name)
The sequel to "If I Didn't Know Better" in tone and lyric. Absolutely stunning lyrics that read like poetry all on their own. Set to music, it's something magical. For some reason, the intensity of the lyrics remind me of Bon Jovi's extremely underrated album cut "If I Was Your Mother" (1992 - seriously go check this out immediately). Where the only thing left to do to get closer to someone is to become a part of them. Achingly gorgeous.
If I was a shadow and you were a street
The cobblestone midnight is where we first meet
Till the lights flickered out, we'd dance with the moon
Then I'd just fade into you
"One Works Better" (Episode 11: You Win Again)
Between the stomping beat, rhythm guitar, and the amazing lyrics, this song from the last few episodes has emerged as one of my favorites of 2013 (just one month in!!). My only criticism of this song is that Sam's voice takes a backseat to Clare's when I would love to hear it be more of a duet than Clare's song. Also the guitars flirt with heaviness but never really cross over into the level of intensity I'd like to see in this song, given the subject matter and bitterness.
I’m gonna make you see the difference between just quitting and survival
I’ve got a voice, and I made my choice between heartbreak and revival
Oh I know you’ll hate how I make everything look easy to do
Oh but it’s my pleasure doing everything better without you