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The Singles Bar: Cam, ‘Diane’

Welcome to The Singles Bar, a review series focused on new single and song releases.

Cameron Ochs possesses a voice as lilting and exhilarating as Pasty Cline’s ⎯⎯ with a songwriting bite pummeling down like a claw hammer. Her rendition of “Sweet Dreams” is relentlessly magical and tears your heart right from your chest, empty and heaving. Cam, as she’s famously known, makes her grand return with “Diane,” a formidable locomotive that barrels down the tracks full-steam ahead. Given the southern California rollick of her debut full-player, 2015’s excellent and dynamic Untamed, she doesn’t stray too far from that sun-starched ambition, bridging that gap with production as thick and flamboyant as her short, cropped bob. Jaunty gallops juxtapose snugly against the song’s blistering, lonesome cry, tended to by Cam’s slick but tearful wail.

“Oh, I promise I didn’t know he was your man / I would have noticed a gold wedding band, Diane / I’d rather you hate me than not understand / Oh, Diane,” rings out the first chorus, the a cappella intro and warm harmonies enveloping your senses. The transparent vulnerability and lyrical pointedness is casual and refreshing, slinking calmly into the song’s sly but brutally charging production style, guitar rising high around her vocal. The proper first verse illustrates her continued wordplay genius. “You pick the time and the place / Don’t know how much this hurts / I gave him my heart to break / Now, I know he broke yours first / Lyin’ right there in my bed / While he was lying to you / Believing the words that he said / How could we be such fools?” she pleads, the rhythmic dance catapulting the tensely-whipped heartthrobs of both the wife and mistress into the mix. Often times, the drums storm too emphatically, bogging down what could have been a cooler, more stripped and organic arrangement. But Cam more than holds her own.

The parallels scrawled between “Diane” and Dolly Parton’s iconic “Jolene” are easily observed. Cam has gone on record stating her tune is a direct “response” to “Jolene,” serving as “the apology so many spouses deserve but never get,” she explains. “The other woman is coming forward to break the news to the wife about an affair, respecting her enough to have that hard conversation, once she realized he was married. Everyone should be able to decide their own path in life, based on the truth.”

“Diane” also carves out a timely sentiment of women’s perceived roles in the world, dismantling traditional stereotypes of the archaic “Stand by Your Man” mentality. “Women, especially, should do this for each other, since our self-worth can still be so wrapped up in our partners,” she says. “In true country fashion, I’ve set the whole raw story to upbeat music, so you can dance while you process it all.”

Grade: 3 out of 5

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Jason Scott

Editor-in-Chief of the Badlands, spinning those B-Sides. Love Parks & Rec. Addicted to high-priced coffee drinks, alt-country and synth-pop, and never know when to quit. Got a cat named Jake--and she doesn't like you very much.