Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this evening’s Independent Spotlight, we delve into a rising singer songwriter hailing from Alabama. Donica Knight has been making a name for herself in the independent music scene crafting country rock the likes of her inspirations - Bonnie Raitt, Jamey Johnson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the like. Her new single is ‘Love Ain’t A Prize.’ Does the new tune deserve a prize, though? Let’s find out.
Right off the bat, ‘Love Ain’t A Prize’ does seem to embrace every country rock trope in the book. Southern pride? Check. Sassy pseudo love song lyrics met with equally sassy instrumentation? Check. With that said, though, the song does have some very original pieces to it. For example, there’s a gospel-like choir backing Knight on the latter half of the tune. That’s remarkably fun and different, perhaps much more so than the rest of the song.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The instrumentation of ‘Love Ain’t A Prize’ is superb. There’s a huge band backing Knight and their prowess is made clear early on. It’s a rollicking fun sound, even anthemic in nature. Knight is also endearing - She’s got a great voice that is suited well to the musical style. Her commanding presence is the defining highlight of the song. (Though that choir is a close second. Man, they’re awesome.)
So the production is solid, the performances are swell, and Knight is a great lead vocalist. What’s the problem, then? Well, the song is very formulaic. It’s as if Knight received a check-list of tropes and predictable stereotypes to fulfill and checked off each box. Sure, this song would be perfectly fun to dance to at a hoedown. I’m not disputing that, and in fact, I’d give it two thumbs up and five stars if that’s the only use of it. In the grand scheme of its genre, however, it’s a predictable, unexciting endeavor that doesn’t have much originality to it, save the epic choir.
I think both Knight and her backing band have an incredible amount of talent. I’d so love to see that talent be directed toward something that is less cliche. Being incredibly involved in the music scene, especially the independent one, I get tracks like this on a near-daily basis. Now, Knight’s track is better produced and performed. I’ll give it that. It doesn’t change the fact that the subject matter is bland, though. Thus, the song is a hit and a miss at the same time. It just depends on what you’re expecting to get out of it. (If you aren’t expecting much, and just want a good romp to dance to, A+.)