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Meghan Linsey, ‘Counting Stars’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

Counting Stars
iTunes

As a solo artist, Meghan Linsey is difficult to label. Her countrified version of OneRepublic’s ‘Counting Stars’ is country like duo the Civil Wars is country. Technically, it’s true. But the song — and yes, this is an overused phrase — is like nothing else on country radio.

Cliches aside, Linsey answers those who might have thought she’d work too close to the edge without her Steel Magnolia bandmate, Joshua Scott Jones. They were right. And we’re better off for it.

After a soft beginning, the vocalist’s passion pours out like water from a dam that’s been hit with dynamite. The heavy makeup used in the video and the single’s album artwork seem meant to seal off an emotional implosion. But before you get there … have you ever heard harmonies quite like those used during the a cappella introduction?

Lately I been, I been losing sleep / Dreaming about the things that we could be / But baby, I been, I been prayin’ hard / Said no more counting dollars / We’ll be counting stars,” Linsey sings as more lilting version of herself comes over top.

Vocally, her performance sounds more inspired by Amy Winehouse or Adele than women named Patsy and Dolly, and it’s likely this will keep the song from becoming a hit in a world where a dearth of female voices has created some urgency to be as safe as vanilla. Lyrically, One Republic’s lyrics are a little deeper than most country hits.

“I see this life / Like a swinging vine / Swing my heart across the line / In my face is flashing signs / Seek it out and ye shall find,” Linsey sings. At first glance, one is more romanced by her voice and a masterful arrangement than lyrical content. ‘Counting Stars’ takes a few spins to appreciate.

I couldn’t lie, couldn’t lie, couldn’t lie / Everything that kills me makes me feel alive.

Linsey has remained true to the art, even if this means carving a deep chasm between those who will love and detest her style and this cover. She’s always been a risk-taker. It seems that nothing has changed, even though everything has changed for this one-of-a-kind vocalist.

Key Lyrics: “I feel something so right / Doing the wrong thing / And I feel something so wrong / By doing the right thing”

Did You Know?: Jones has also released solo material. A song called ‘Honk (If You’re Tonky)’ is available at digital retailers. An album dubbed ‘The Healing’ is expected later this year.

Listen to Meghan Linsey, ‘Counting Stars’

Next: What Are the Best Songs of 2014 (So Far)?

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