As if we needed another 50-something or 60-something male actor taking a stab at a country music career. Kevin Costner, Kevin Bacon, Jeff Bridges, Billy Bob Thorton. Who am I missing? Now Kiefer Sutherland is taking a sabbatical from squeezing every last everloving drop of entertainment value out of FOX’s “24” concept to launch his own country music side piece, complete with a lead single, an album promised sometime this summer, and a 25-city tour starting in April.
It all just feels so achingly predictable: successful and well-off actor gets bored and wants to explore his country music fantasy. The predictability of it all is almost as hard to overlook as staring down Kiefer Sutherland in a cowboy hat and not seeing Jack Bauer or that vampire with the bleached mullet he played in Lost Boys. It’s like watching Garth Brooks trying out for the Mets. Just because you’re loaded and have a hot wife doesn’t mean every single one of your fantasies in life can come true boys and girls.
But I have to tell you, this “Not Enough Whiskey” from ol’ Kiefer is not half bad. It’s traditional country, it’s executed fairly well, and like all of these other 50-year-old actors who want to scratch their musical bone, Kiefer doesn’t really have to worry about the commercial impact of the music; he’s just doing it because he wants to. So while these projects are never particularly good, because playing good country music—just like acting or playing professional baseball—takes incredible discipline and lifelong commitment, they also tends to be much better than what you might hear Bobby Bones blasting during the morning commute.
Jack Bauer can diffuse a bomb and save the planet two hours after banging the President’s secretary, but he can’t sing. But neither can Tom Waits. Instead of trying though, Sutherland pens a song that works within his vocal limitations, and maybe even flatters what he has for a singing voice. The raspy, whiskey-riddled tone lends to the depressed and lonesome mood of this song. It almost reminds one of Mike Ness of Social Distortion and his country side projects—not nearly as good, but forlorn and heartbroken in spirit.
“Not Enough Whiskey” doesn’t really go anywhere in the lyricism, and I’m not sure the chorus actually works like it’s supposed to, or how Sutherland set out for it to. But this song’s desire is to capture a mood, not recite poetry necessarily, and in this pursuit it does so fairly well. The chord structure is fetching, and steel guitar makes anything sound better. I even think the video is tolerable. Apparently Sutherland scouted the location for it, and by playing a string of live shows and co-writing his own material, at least he’s putting the effort out to pursue this lark as authentically as he can.
I’m not itching to score tickets for when Keifer comes rolling through town, or looking to augment my list of most-anticipated albums in 2016 to include his upcoming Down in a Hole album. But shit, there’s worse.