While his peers are seeming content to relive the past in their work through one melody or another, Lavon Coates doesn’t want to be the same kind of barroom poet that has dominated the country music conversation for two generations-plus. In Coates’ new single, which is titled “Raise Her Right,” the singer/songwriter makes it obvious that his priorities as an artist are rooted far more in making the biggest and boldest harmonies he can over trying to join in with the pop trajectory that a lot of his rivals would do anything to be a part of. There isn’t a lot of added sonic zeal behind the soundboard in “Raise Her Right,” but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a heady dose of melodic adrenaline, with some of the track’s best moments coming in the heat of passion between the players. Coates’ words are always the main appeal here, but make no mistake about it – if there’s anything you can’t accuse this guy of as a composer and performer, it’s adhering to the singular standards of a less than erudite era for country music singer/songwriters.
The instrumentation in this single colorizes the lyricism more through physicality than tonality, but this isn’t to suggest that “Raise Her Right” is somehow missing that key “it” factor in the warmth of its aural presence. Contrarily, there’s a lot of melodic intensity to the piano and string parts that leads us to feel the glow of the narrative through the music as frequently as we do the lyrics explaining it to us verse by verse.
There’s a lot of live potential in this track, and its flexible bones indicate that, if given the right kind of venue to make it happen, Coates and his collaborators on stage could turn it into an extended jam perfect for making those long hot spring nights last just a little bit longer than they already would have. You don’t have to be a big fan of country music to appreciate how sharp this hook is, and I would even say that those who aren’t normally big on this genre could likely use “Raise Her Right” as a segue into its burgeoning underground class of 2023.
I only just recently found out about the complete works of Lavon Coates as they presently stand this spring, but I’m really excited to hear what he’s going to cultivate in the studio next after getting a sneak preview in “Raise Her Right.” Nashville has absolutely seen a lot better days than the present – I think most anyone who knows anything about the country music genre right now is already aware of as much – but its storied underground is doing everything it can to keep the flame of the genre alive through tunes like this latest cut from Coates. He isn’t playing music for the money – this artist is the real deal, and his integrity finds a way of bleeding into every beat he records (including the ones we’re finding in this new single and its video).