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Song You Need to Know: Runaway June, ‘I Know the Way’

Radio-friendly country-pop that puts women’s voices first

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JUNE 06: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Hannah Mulholland, Naomi Cooke, and Jennifer Wayne of Runaway June  perform on stage during day 1 of 2019 CMA Music Festival on June 06, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Danielle Del Valle/Getty Images)

Hannah Mulholland, Naomi Cooke, and Jennifer Wayne of Runaway June perform on stage during day 1 of 2019 CMA Music Festival on June 06, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Danielle Del Valle/Getty Images

“I’ve been trying to un-fall apart,” the country trio Runaway June sang on their 2018 breakthrough single “Buy My Own Drinks,” an ode to broken-heart dive-bar hopping. “and I’ve been thinking that some neon lights would be a real good start.” One year later, the group flips the script on “I Know the Way,” a shimmering pop-country highlight from the band’s debut album Blue Roses: This time, lead singer Naomi Cooke is the one offering barroom solace to someone in the throes of a bad breakup.

Cooke spends the line’s first few lines of the song sharing her condolences before bright handclaps announce a new melody and a tonal shift halfway through the first verse. Suddenly, Cooke switches from wise advice-giver to hopeful romantic. “Thanks to her,” she sings in this flirty ode to rebounds, admitting she’s happy the man she’s advising is now single, “I got chance.” Before long, the band kicks into their guide to relieving a bruised heart (Their main piece of advice? Dancefloor makeouts). 

“I Know The Way” is a radio-friendly mid-tempo rocker that finds the upstart trio slyly toying around with gender roles in a contemporary genre that tends to prioritize male pleasure and pathos. But the type of playful, no-strings-attached fun the band proposes in the song feels at home amidst the uptick of insurgent country music proclamations over the past half-dozen years, with songs like Kacey Musgraves’ “It Is What It is” and Maren Morris’ “Make Out With Me” highlighting female narrators asserting their own claim to casual sensuality.  

 

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