Aside from maybe cold beer and hot wings, or blue jeans and work boots, few things pair as well together as a distorted riff and a sneering lyric. Elvie Shane knows this and wisely uses the one-two punch to announce his new single. Remember the first time you heard Eric Church’s “How ‘Bout You”? “County Roads” hits like that.
As a gnarly, fuzzed-out riff from studio session ace Tom Bukovac fades, Shane — a Kentucky boy who races muscle cars and got turned onto music at a Baptist revival — shares his origin story: “I got a public education/But it didn’t come from class/It came from the long rides home/On the bus, in the back.” Anyone who’s ridden the yellow chariot to school knows the good shit happened in those last two rows, right by the emergency exit — the smoking, the smack talk, the flirting.
Shane celebrates all those indiscretions and more in “County Roads,” a coming-of-age song about “the lessons that don’t come cheap.” Written by Shane, Kip Moore’s go-to collaborator Dan Couch, and Shane’s producer Oscar Charles, it hits all the marks of wonderfully wasted youth. During a night out cruising with his girl, he learns “you can still go too far/even when the tank’s on E.” In another vignette, he watches his love life get snuffed out when his dad unceremoniously hands him a wrench and his stood-up lady takes off with his buddy. (Shane did come away knowing how to fix a car, however.)
The whole song ends in a “na-na-na” chorus, a flurry of guitar notes, and Shane’s defiant drawl. It’s electrifying stuff, and a reminder that mainstream country music, for all its overpolished excess, can be at its best when it’s rough around the edges.