I never thought the day would come when I would hear a Judds song that I didn't like. I especially wouldn't expect it when the Judds are preparing to make a highly-anticipated comeback for one last album and tour. Sadly, that is exactly what has happened. Wynonna and Naomi have released their first new single in a decade. How I would love to drool all over it, give it a big fat ten, and proclaim it their best work in ages! But unfortunately, there are not many good things that I can say about "I Will Stand By You."
"I Will Stand By You" is helped by some tasteful production choices. It is similar to the Judds' eighties hits in that it is backed by mostly acoustic production, but it has been slightly modernized with a stronger beat. On the down side, the song has a dull melody, it doesn't quite suit Wynonna's voice, and the harmonies are not as tight as they once were.
What of the song itelf? Lame. Really lame. It's a string of cliches that say "I'm one tough cookie!" It hits all the bases from "I am as ready as I'll ever be" to "I am stronger still when I'm on my knees." There's no narrative to bind all these sentiments into something cohesive. Furthermore, it's hard to take encouragement from a series of vague platitudes that do not relate to real-life situations. Nothing about these lyrics feels real or relevant. Wynonna and Naomi are better than this.
Whenever a ledendary act makes a comeback, the new music must bear comparison with past work. It's been 24 years since the Judds released their classic "Grandpa (Tell Me 'Bout the Gold Old Days)," but that song is far from forgotten. On the contrary, generations of country music lovers remember it and cherish it down to this day. That exposes the main problem with this new single - It is easily forgotten five minutes after it ends.
If this is going to be Wynonna and Naomi's final time recording together, then they should be going out with a bang. Do something that will really blow us away! It would obviously have no chance at radio anyway, so they should focus on giving us something special to remember them by. The idea of the Judds recording one last album sounded so promising, but such a weak single is hardly an enticing preview. That makes this Judd-head very disappointed!
THE JUDDS' SCORE: 4
(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)
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