Single Review: Cam’s “Diane”

Rating: 5/10

Cam has been getting a lot of attention for this song, and as someone who was excited by her potential and loved “Burning House” but wasn’t necessarily blown away by the rest of her debut, I went into this hesitantly. I hope for Cam’s sake and the sake of talented women seeking to make it on country radio that she can have success with this song–because the half of this song that is great is the half that Cam has some responsibility for.

So let’s just ignore the supposed ties to that old Dolly Parton song that literally every other outlet everywhere is discussing and take this as a song. It’s told from the point of view of the other woman, speaking to Diane and telling her that she didn’t know he was married and that she’d give back the nights he spent with her if she could. She’d rather Diane hate her than not understand what happened, but she knows Diane will probably choose to blame her instead of believing the whole truth “because that’s what a good wife would do.” Yes, a song in country that tells a story, and about adultery no less. I love the little details like how Diane will probably hate her anyway, but this woman is desperate to tell her the truth in order to keep Diane from being deceived. Cam sings it quite well too, with nice vocal delivery and heartfelt sincerity that elevate the lyrics.

So why the lukewarm rating? Simply put, the arrangement/production of this thing is horrendous. It’s too frantic and upbeat for the words Cam is saying. There’s supposed to be all this cool harmony in the chorus, but it’s the result of effects rather than actual four-part harmony. I respect the fact that acoustic guitar drives the melody, and you don’t really hear electronic beats, but as I say, this song is moving along at such a rapid, frantic pace that it feels like Cam is just trying to keep up. It could have been a great song, it’s got a great country theme. I’m all for even modernizing it some to give Cam a fighting chance to make it on radio, but she can sing the hell out of stuff like “Burning House,” and if they’d stripped this down even a little, it would have flattered both her voice and the song. As it is, this arrangement has absolutely killed it and forsaken the melody. Further, it’s still not exactly radio-friendly, as it’s kind of vintage poppish with a little country flavor, so in essence, it’s probably not going to fly either on radio or with her more country-leaning fans. So it’s lukewarm all around, and maybe that’s the genius in tying it back to that Dolly Parton song, to attach it to an admittedly interesting talking point.

I hope I’m wrong for Cam’s sake, and for the sake of more songs buried in there like “Burning House” that need this single to be successful in order to see the light of day. But in the meantime, this is a case of a good country song on paper ruined at the hands of a pop producer, and my fear is that Cam will suffer for it.

Written by: Cam, Jeff Bhasker, Tyler Johnson

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