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Music Review: Taylor Hicks – “Seven Mile Breakdown”

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With his latest single "Seven Mile Breakdown," Taylor Hicks is reaching out to the country market. A highlight from his recent album The Distance, the bluesy rocker has been given a twangy makeover courtesy of award winning engineer/producer Chuck Ainlay. The single mix, one minute shorter than the album version, features a prominent piano part throughout as well as some strategically placed fiddling. Ainlay managed to keep the essence of the song the same, since there was already a distinctly country feel to the album version of the song. Hicks' powerhouse lead vocal remains front and center, while the new elements blend smoothly with the original track.

This isn't the first time Hicks has ventured into country territory. In his pre-fame days, he recorded a demo in Nashville consisting of a few early originals. His thick Alabama accent already lends itself well to the genre, but more importantly the songs translated effectively. The unreleased Nashville recording of "The Fall" could've been a smash on the country charts. In his autobiography, Heart Full of Soul, Hicks' expressed dissatisfaction with the results of those sessions. These days, considering all the undeserved brickbats being hurled his way, he needs to catch a break somewhere. "Seven Mile Breakdown" could prove to be a real breakthrough.

The first single from The Distance, "What's Right Is Right," performed fairly well on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart, spending the last three months in the Top 30. It wasn't necessarily the best choice for lead-off single though. It's a somewhat formulaic pop/soul ballad with a restrained lead vocal. The first time I heard the entire album, "Seven Mile Breakdown" stood out as an ideal showcase for Hicks' strengths. Given the potential for a country crossover hit, it's a smart choice as follow-up single. When he delivered a rousing rendition of the song on American Idol's Top Five elimination week, it seemed like 2006 all over again. Hopefully many viewers were reminded of why they voted him winner that year.

The song's video debuted this week, and if there's any justice CMT is paying attention. The clip for "What's Right Is Right" was rather somber, with Hicks performing the song in a smokey club. While by no means poorly done, the argument could easily be made that it wasn't going to command the attention of a casual viewer. The "Seven Mile Breakdown" video seems geared toward winning some new fans. As simple as it is, with Hicks playing the song in an open field to a small gathering of fans, there is a sense of fun that compliments the song's mood.

Taylor Hicks is the greatest talent to come out of American Idol, but has struggled finding a wide audience. Plagued by ridiculously overwrought – and entirely unjustified – bad press, the more easily convinced sector of the public has bought into the bogus idea that his Idol victory was a "mistake." If releasing a country remix of "Seven Mile Breakdown" will help him gain wider exposure, ultimately leading to more quality music, then more power to him.

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About The Other Chad

Hi, I'm Chaz Lipp. An old co-worker of mine thought my name was Chad. Since we had two Chads working there at the time, I was "The Other Chad."
  • KathyO

    Agree with you completely on The Fall. I’ve listened to that version of The Fall and it’s just terrific.

  • Jan

    His new single is fantastic Seven Mile Breakdown ROCKS!!!!I saw him on AI he blew the place down.He is a great entertainer and singer I hope that the Country Genre embrace this very talented and HOT!! guy..

  • Gregg

    Great review of an excellent song! I love listening to this one while driving down the highway…

  • begonia84

    Absolutely love this song & video. Great southern country rock sound. Gets ya movin’. This country fan hopes to hear him a lot on the country stations I listen to.

  • Carol

    Oh, thank you so much for this review! I so agree with all that you said and you said it so well! This artist has so much talent and charisma, just oozes music out of his very soul and has an interest in and talent for performing all kinds of music. This is a great song, video, and presentation. I love the arrangement, too, and Taylor’s vocals are superb! Thanks so much!

  • FLGal

    Taylor Hicks is the greatest talent to come out of American Idol, but has struggled finding a wide audience. Plagued by ridiculously overwrought – and entirely unjustified – bad press, the more easily convinced sector of the public has bought into the bogus idea that his Idol victory was a “mistake.”

    I agree 100%! Taylor is truly talented and his music is “REAL” which is a new concept for today’s popular music. “Seven Mile Breakdown” is a great song and is one of many excellent cuts from the CD-“The Distance” Thank you for this terrific review.

  • Giovanna

    Finally! Someone who “gets” Taylor!!

    Thank you!

  • mavis

    Wow! Taylor Hicks does it again. There is no other entertainer like him and his amazing multi-talents. Saw him on AI and he set the place on fire! This video of 7 Mile Breakdown invites us all to share in his high energy joy of music. His musical journey becomes ours. I am so looking forward to what you have to offer now and in the future. Thank you Taylor!

  • linda

    I love that version of “The Fall” too. I love the way it builds to the end. I wish Taylor would include that version on an album.

  • Kathleen

    I am so glad Taylor’s new CD is getting such good reviews. I really think AI threw him under the bus in favor of Chris Daughtry. Taylor is the most unique AI winner. He was great on the show a few weeks back – he rocked the house! Taylor needs to stay with his southern country/blues/soul roots and go for it. Soul Patrol!

  • Christa

    Thank you! This review is pretty much dead on. I hope Taylor gets better treatment because the media has pretty much convinced a lot of people that he didn’t deserve the win. I bet they haven’t even listened to his music and are just being sheep.

  • Aragall

    Taylor Hicks is the greatest talent to come out of American Idol, but has struggled finding a wide audience. Plagued by ridiculously overwrought – and entirely unjustified – bad press, the more easily convinced sector of the public has bought into the bogus idea that his Idol victory was a “mistake.”

    Taylor has been the main course at a media feeding frenzy since he won Season 5 of American Idol. His win was no mistake. I think it says a lot about this young performers character that he has remained positive throughout the onslaught of negativity, led by the very ones who brought him to the public’s attention. For big wigs like Cowell, Lythgoe, Fuller and Davis to work so hard running Taylor down, I figure there must really be a lot of substance to him. It’s been 3 years since he won AI, and the media still persist with their ridiculous slams. If they haven’t managed to cover up Taylor’s immense talent in three years, it must be even greater than I dared to think.

  • Louise

    Thanks for this insightful review. Taylor is the hardest working man. He loves music and is a passionate performer. He lacks nothing but an honest opinion and I thank you for yours. Here is hoping that this release of SMB to country brings new fans. Taylor deserves that. He’s one of a kind.

  • Mary

    Great article. Many salient points. It is clear that you understand and appreciate Taylor Hicks’ voice and music. I, too, am hoping that Seven Mile Breakdown will be the breakthrough hit that he so deserves. It’s been my favorite to listen to off the recent CD, The Distance. The Fall is one of my favorites as well.

  • Karen

    Thank you for this wonderful review. Finally, a very uplifting and positive view on the artistry of Taylor Hicks. He is a very hardworking and passionate performer. Love every song ever sang by him. He is an immense talent that will be around for a long time to come.

  • Leann

    Thank you for such a wonderful, heartfelt review of “Seven Mile Breakdown”. Good to see that someone else recognizes the ridiculous negative press that Taylor has received and more importantly, recognizes what an incredible talent this guy is !

  • Josh

    Dude last paragraph is true.

  • sandybrown

    Thank you !!!!! Taylor’s songs are great. Finally someone has something to say about him that is positive. Loved him and his songs since I saw him. Love 7 mile breakdown and I love his song THE DISTANCE. That also has a country rock sound. Thank you once again!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Debbie

    I also think Hell of a Day would have been a number one hit in Country.

  • debbie

    THANK YOU for the nice ariticle about Taylor! I am just amazed every day at the bad press he gets for working hard to make music that he loves and to share it with those of us who enjoy it!!! Why people find that so threatening is beyond me! Your review gives me hope that some day others will give him a little credit as well. He is amazing in person—have been to concerts and Grease and he is worth the money and pours himself out for his audience. You made my day!

  • It’s so refreshing reading a positive write up about Mr. Hicks and his music. I agree with your sentiments about the videos with this second one being much better a representation than the first. “Seven Mile Breakdown” an excellent tune penned with Wynn Christian, band, Spoonful of James.

    I think Taylor blew the Idol people away with his performance.

  • George

    Thanks for being honest about Taylor and his talent. For his tried and true fans, we still cannot understand the treatment he received by the producers both of AI and his first record label. The guy always takes the high road and keeps on doing what he loves–making music. I will always be a fan, but I sure hope that people who have not heard him will give him an opportunity. He’s a great entertainer.

  • medolark

    Excellent review. The new cd is more representative of Taylor. There are many great songs on it that could be country. Can we have a country/soul singer? He is a dynamite live entertainer and it really showed on his debut of 7 MB on AI. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Ü

  • Deb

    Wow, someone finally realizes how talented Taylor is. Taylor doesn’t fall into any one music genre because he encompasses almost all of them…talk about the total package. I really enjoyed your insightful review of Seven Mile Breakdown. I also appreciate the fact that you mentioned how the unjustified bad press he has gotten has hindered his career. We need more journalists like you who are willing to stand up and tell it like it is.

  • Steve

    I just heard this song and although it really isn’t “country” from a more traditional standpoint, it really works up a good sweat. I like it and need to hear more of his music, country-ish or not. Great vocals.

  • Cra-Z

    Aw, geez! What is up with Country? A genre that thinks Taylor Swift is A-Okay and gives Def Lepard a shot won’t accept soulful native Alabamian with roots deep in the sand at the Flora-bama?