Americana and rustic western swing have been all the rage in 2019, but on the flipside, a new breed of country artist is emerging from the background shadows, and at the forefront of this movement we find singer/songwriters like Chris Douglas, whose debut single “Ain’t Getting Any Younger,” has the firepower of a rock tune with all of the swaggering country color that fans have come to demand in a “New Nashville” act. Douglas isn’t trying to change the narrative of the traditional country sound in this track, but rather adding his own pop-friendly bend to a tried and true framework.
Other than the outline of the rhythm, this single has little in common with country’s old school. It’s actually really contemporary, and has an almost cosmopolitan polish that makes it a nice crossover for listeners who enjoy both easy listening music along with some rough and tumble rock from time to time. He isn’t trying to pander to two separate markets in this song, but instead appealing to the sensibilities of multiple audiences by merely being himself and showing off his eclectic influences and means of play. It’s clear that he grew up listening to just as much classic rock as he did vintage country, and he tips his hat to both here quite respectfully.
The guitars sparkle with a twang that is made all the sharper thanks to the rigidity of the bassline in this track. It’s not quite the boisterous bumping of a hip-hop single, but the bass in “Ain’t Getting Any Younger” is surprisingly assaultive and, at times, a bit reckless in tone. This doesn’t create a jaggedness in the rhythm of the music though; in fact, it creates a bit of much-needed contrast that prevents the song from sounding repetitive or overwhelming in its dynamic chorus.
Chris Douglas uses his lyrics in this single to introduce some blue collar grit into an otherwise streamlined song structure, and much to my delight, he doesn’t draw from the same well of predictableness that so many of his less than erudite peers have in recent months. If he isn’t speaking from the heart in “Ain’t Getting Any Younger,” then he is doing a mighty fine job of fooling me and pretty much every other critic that has been abuzz with its upcoming release this June. If any element of his energy in this track translates to his live performances, then he’s going to gain even more esteem from his scene brethren once he takes to the road.
As far as new country singers go, there are a lot of different artists making music that goes above and beyond what I would consider to be exceptional, but there’s something special about Chris Douglas that makes him undisputedly among the cream of the crop. He’s raw, straightforward, soft-spoken and a little mischievous in “Ain’t Getting Any Younger,” and while we’ll be able to tell a little bit more about his sonic profile in a full-length offering, this is a supreme sample of a sound that I am really excited to see him cultivate a bit further.