Sweeney’s native Texas twang ping-pongs against the melody from the pedal steel and fiddle with natural harmony in the classic minor key progression outlining the story of a love lost relationship.
Her new single is the story of a relationship at its end, where the pain of staying overwhelms the fears of walking away, even when “freedom feels a lot like treason / I know staying’s worse than leaving.”
The one-time comedian found a career in music when her comedy troupe suggested its pursuit, and her knack for beautiful vocal melodies and catchy chorus’ reinforce the reason for her success since her debut album in 2007.
Sweeney did well to retain the popular pedal steel sound that helped guide her 2010 single “From a Table Away” reach the top10 country music chart. Two rounds of a verse and pre-chorus engage the first chorus followed by a pedal steel solo in the radio friendly pop-country fashion.
Unfortunately, it’s the only element of this song that lends anything towards a somewhat mature sound. Lyrics like “Leaving’s hard/ Trust me it’s really bad” showcase the shallow pool of artistic experience she is drawing from.
The moderate fast tempo fails to contribute any depth to the somber content of the lyrics, instead shedding itself of an authentic sentiment in replacement for commercialism. Had this song been slowed down, thereby sacrificing listenability, perhaps the depth of it’s message could have been deeply interpreted. Instead, its contemporary song structure and typically clean mixing delivers an insincere depiction of her subject in order to cater to the palates of carpooling, bumper-to-bumper masses.
This song’s architecture is the common tactic for an easy acceptance into a wide variety of listeners. The drum’s halted presence during the first verse gently invites the listener into the ease of Sweeney’s voice and acoustic guitar supported by the simple bass line and slow introduction of the kick drum and cross-rim on the snare.
Despite the similarly conflicted narration, “Staying’s Worse than Leaving” lacks the genuine emotionalism that brought her last single success, although that wont deter it from pop culture playlists. Its carbon copy arrangements make it easily digestible for an average audience’s aesthetic taste.