Welcome to The Singles Bar, a review series focused on new single and song releases.
If Tanya Tucker and Reba had set about their legacy careers in 2017, they’d be Fiona Culley, an amalgamation of empowerment and raw nerve. Culley’s first radio single is the audacious, groove-based “Act Like a Lady,” which deconstructs testosterone-heavy egomaniacs by tapping into the same gender roles she aims to breach. Produced by Tyler Cain (Ashley Monroe, Big & Rich) and Zac Maloy (Carrie Underwood, Skillet), the smoldering anthem burns her ex to the ground. “Oh no, here we go. It’s the end I should’ve known, a promise from a man like you⎯is like a one way sign on a dead end road,” she warbles on the opening line, borrowing a thematic punch from Sara Evans’ new single “Marquee Sign.” Culley shades her phrasing with a bit more anger, though, both exhaustive and vigorous.
“I swear this is it, the last time I fall for this, shady little show of testosterone. I’m better off alone. Crash and burn, love and learn. From here on out, here’s what I’m gonna do,” she avows, crescendoing into the addictive hook, “Act like a lady, think like a man. Smile and look pretty. But have a backup plan. Whispering sweet little lies. Look him in the eyes. Don’t let him know where you stand…act like a lady, think like a man…” The production style is eerily reminiscent of Underwood’s blockbuster signature “Before He Cheats,” off her 2005 debut album, Some Hearts. But its more modern flourishes, in much the same haunting way as The Band Perry’s “Better Dig Two,” with banjo framed on top of the other elements, are magnetic. Culley’s vocal, too, is treated with the right amount of finesse and gutting growl.
Culley penned the track with Maloy and Jenn Schott (Tim McGraw, Mickey Guyton, Eli Young Band), and it is reportedly the first sample of her upcoming EP, produced by Paul Worley (Dixie Chicks, Lady Antebellum). Last year, Culley teamed up with Darius Rucker for “Life on the Line,” the title song a film starring John Travolta, Kate Bosworth and Sharon Stone.