Willi Carlisle’s “Vanlife” and the talk-sing trend in country music


I feel like talking-singing has gotten a bit of a bad rap lately because a lot of country fans aren’t enamored with the pop and rap influences of country radio.

Songs like Jason Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem” and almost anything by Sam Hunt (although I’ll defend his music as having more substance than you might think) are examples at least. . . country speaks-sings songs.

Heck, even I can admit that I turn my nose up at some of these when I hear them on the radio.

But this trend isn’t new and isn’t just happening on country radio.

While looking for some new music to listen to the other day, I came across the song “Vanlife” by Willi Carlisle.

It took me a while and a few listens to figure out why this song sounded so familiar to me based on how he sang it alone.

Then it hit me…this song is reminiscent of Ray Stevens’ “Mississippi Squirrel Revival” and The Charlie Daniels Band’s “Uneasy Rider”.

Now, I’ll admit none of these songs are alike beyond talking-singing with an easy-to-follow melody.

But I tried to figure out why these songs smack of country while others don’t. Maybe it’s the twang or important instruments like guitar and violin.

Maybe it’s the content. What could be more country than a squirrel going wild in church?

Honestly, I think it’s just the journeys that these three songs take us on. Country music is all about specific details and storytelling, and I think these songs embody those aspects more than many other talking songs.

Willi Carlisle, in particular, holds a master’s degree in poetry, as seen in his writing in ‘Vanlife’ as he takes us through his journey of quitting his minimum wage job and traveling across the United States. .

The song is wild from start to finish with the singer meticulously describing his new life, so it feels like you’re with him.

I mean, how many country songs do you know that mention Waffle House, Nietzsche and Elon Musk?

It is these specificities that place us exactly in the time and place where the singer wants us to be.

Ultimately, the spoken vocals in this song as well as songs by Ray Stevens and The Charlie Daniels Band add to the storytelling aspect of the song rather than acting as just a gimmick to make the song more interesting than it is. is not.


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