Richard Schroder knows how to write and sing a pop-country song, exemplified by “Let’s See How Far We Can Go,” which is built upon a thumping beat. Over sparse instrumentation, this one is upbeat and optimistic. Like a lot of contemporary country music, the song is driven by positive momentum. It’s a song about looking forward and “leaving the past behind.” Maybe today’s country music finds the silver lines around clouds so often is because there are still vestiges of religious faith found in the South. Whatever the reason, you won’t find many songs like this one on pop radio. It’s just not cool for today’s pop stars to be hopeful and somewhat naively innocent. It’s better for the rock star image to by cynical and sarcastic. As winning as this little ditty is, though, it’s not the Skyline EP’s best song. No, the project’s best track comes next.
“Don’t You Grow up on Me Now” is a song sung from a father to his child. This one surpasses “Let’s See How Far We Can Go” in a couple areas. First, its instrumentation incorporates far more distinctly country elements, which include mandolin and steel guitar, not to mention the recording’s steady piano part. Better still, its lyric is emotionally moving and easily relatable. All parents have moments where they get a snapshot look at their son or daughter, and they want nothing more than to just keep that child forever at that age. Of course, we all know children grow into adults – every one of them. We want them to remain at a particularly beautiful age. Maybe we also secretly want them to stay innocent. They say our children grow up too fast. And whoever first said that was telling the truth. Even so, many new parents refuse to believe it – at least until they find out for themselves. This song’s lyric is filled with detailed memories of an offspring’s life. It’s the kind of song Tim McGraw excels at. As Schroder is a fan of McGraw, it would be surprising if the songwriter hasn’t already pitched this one to McGraw.
The rest of this project doesn’t match the emotional effectiveness of “Don’t Grow up on Me Now.” “Stay Over” is a nice hook-up song, while “Hallelujah Skyline” turns a sunrise into a romantic relationship into spiritual experiences. Schroder sings with a strong voice, although it is not exactly a twangy, accented country voice. Schroder’s voice is flexible enough to also sing pop music, although one imagines he loves country music most. It is the style, after all, that offers so much freedom to sing about the familiar feelings of regular guys. This ain’t no urban guy, singing songs about urban life. Rather, he sings about experiences most folks in the flyover states know well.
Skyline likely won’t appeal to the hat-wearing, big belt buckle sporting country music traditionalists. It won’t exactly offend these, either. It’s just aimed more at the in laws, than the outlaws. If everything on it was as topnotch as “Don’t You Grow up on Me Now,” they’d need to hand this guy a big fat record contract, and pronto! Nevertheless, Schroder has some clear songwriting talent, which shows through again and again on this quality EP.