There’s a moment in just about every Colt Ford single when one braces for the Georgia born songwriter’s hip-hop-country delivery. “How far from center will he travel,” one wonders — with trepidation or excitement, depending on perspective. On ‘Back,’ his new single with Jake Owen on the chorus, Ford is in the upper bowl of the arena as Owen puts on a show at center stage.

This isn’t to say ‘Back’ is a bad song, or even a song that has has no place on country radio. In fact a strong argument could be made that Ford’s values are more in line with the country audience than most artists on the radio.

My dad’s gettin’ older now but son he’s still as tough as ever / Him and my little boy are best friends now, wish it could last forever / My mama is still the one I talk to when I need advice / She never ever let me down / God what will I do when she’s not around,” he sings during the third and final verse.

With his rapid-fire delivery, Ford is forced to fill up a lot of space, and this new single is about a verse too long. The story of Mr. Logan and David is sweet, but not particularly poetic or free-flowing. Owen’s chorus is sharp — in fact the singer sounds like Ronnie Dunn alongside Colt Ford.

Back / When life was simple as that / I didn’t know I’d miss it so bad / This whole world had way less worries, nobody in a hurry and back / To mama’s home cookin’ and Dad / Was baitin’ my hook and sitting on a tailgate, thinking ’bout those days just / Wish I was / Back.”

‘Declaration of Independence’ will be the fourth album Ford has filled with Nashville talent. His unique approach and tireless touring schedule have earned him a strong grassroots fanbase. However even the most loyal of his followers can see the formula the songwriter turns too with frequency. ‘Back’ isn’t a step backward, but it’s no step forward. He’s simply keeping pace walking down the up escalator.

2.5 Stars

Listen to Colt Ford, ‘Back’ (Feat. Jake Owen)

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