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Parmalee, ‘Carolina’ – Song Review

Carolina
Stoney Creek Records

“Polished” is not a word one would have used to describe Parmalee after the North Carolina foursome shared their debut single ‘Musta Had a Good Time’ in 2012, but the rowdy country rockers’ follow-up single ‘Carolina’ is as radio-friendly of a track as you’ll find. It’s not clear that either style is a perfect fit for the Thomas brothers and their bandmates.

In ‘Carolina,’ they’ve written a hit song. The chorus is as good as anything you’ll hear in 2013, and it quickly becomes an earworm one is proud to host:

She feels like Carolina / Looks like California / Shinning like those New York lights on Broadway / When she looks back I’m behind her / I’ll always be there for her / She makes me feel like home’s not so far away.”

‘Carolina’ is a straightforward love song that tells the story of one man missing a girl back home. Each verse relies on the lead singer for that extra breath of emotion that lifts a song from good to great. Parmalee never quite gets there. The production feels too soft for a group of former rockers — they’re facing a Goldilocks problem in searching for a niche that’s not too hard, not too soft, but just right.

It’s hard to understand the way I’m livin’ / And I know she thinks I’m never comin’ home / But I miss her pretty smile / And I’m comin’ back in a little while / But I’m a thousand miles away again,” lead singer Matt Thomas sings during the second verse.

This isn’t the first time ‘Carolina’ has been introduced as a country single. Before Golden Music folded in 2010, now-independent artist Benton Blount did a major market radio tour with the song as a potential first single. Both Parmalee and Blount are products of the Tar Heel State, and they have even shared the same stage on occasion.

It’s refreshing to see ‘Carolina’ finally getting the exposure it deserves, even with the pop-rock “oh, oh, oh” line that closes the bridge. A thick guitar solo may have been a better choice than the Emerson Drive impression to bring in the final chorus. But the bigger picture flaw is that the group still seems to be searching for an identity. They sound as if they’re holding back, which holds the song back.

3 Stars

Listen to Parmalee, ‘Carolina’

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Next: See the Top 40 Country Songs for January 2013

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