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Joanna Smith, ‘We Can’t Be Friends’ – Song Review

We Can't Be Friends
RCA Nashville

If Joanna Smith‘s new single ‘We Can’t Be Friends’ was released 30 years ago, we might call it a classic in 2012. Since the singer is relatively new, however (the sexy single ‘Georgia Mud’ barely cracked the chart in 2011 ), we’ll restrain ourselves from over-selling this portrait of caged yearning. Smith is the perfect voice to tell the story.

Her lilting melody is full of heartbreak that the hardened words are trying to conceal. It’s easy to imagine the painful beauty on Smith’s face as she thinks about this guy, which in turn makes it easy to remember one’s own bad-for-me guy or girl.

We can’t be friends / You can’t drop by / If I run into your brother, I can’t tell him to tell you hi / You can’t call / I can’t pick up / We can’t meet for margaritas, I can’t wear that dress you love,” Smith sings to begin ‘We Can’t Be Friends.’

It’s an understated performance, one which fits the story like a good pair of blue jeans. She doesn’t try to prove she’s Nashville’s top vocalist. The producer also limits the amount of country instrumentation, allowing the story to get the job done.

The chorus is sharp and instantly palpable:

Cause you’ll look at me like I want you to / Then we’ll brush hands like we accidentally always do / We stay too late and laugh too hard / Look too long and that ain’t too far from wakin’ up / Right where we’ve always been / We can’t be friends.”

It’s not that I don’t love you it’s I love you way too much,” she adds late in the song, as if we weren’t bleeding with empathy already.

‘We Can’t Be Friends’ should be Smith’s breakout song. She’s an honest talent with a sincere ability to throw every ounce of herself into any song. That might have turned fans and radio off in the past, but with this song, she hits a home run.

4.5 Stars

Listen to Joanna Smith, ‘We Can’t Be Friends’

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