Coming at us with a hot and heavy rhythm that could make just about anyone feel like dancing, there’s no debate as to whether or not the swing in Russ Still and the Moonshiners’ “Cancun” is the fieriest feature this hybrid single has to offer. Right out of the gate, there’s nothing in the mix to stop Still and his backing band from dishing out one magnetizing groove after another, and though their melodic command – which starts and ends with Still’s own vocal – is sizeable indeed, it’s never quite as physically engaging as any of the percussive pulsations are.
There’s a very old school rock n’ roll vibe to the underlying rhythm beneath the melodic components in this track, and this is absolutely the main reason why I’m reticent to deem “Cancun” a straight-up country song. It’s got too much in common with the crossovers produced by the Bakersfield sound to be a conventional country track and too much of a pastoral sensibility to be all-out rock, but enough of both to make fans of either genre satisfied this summer. Those are two camps that don’t have much in common anymore, to put it quite mildly.
The sizzle on the guitars definitely adds a lot of energy to the verses that wouldn’t have been present in this single otherwise, but I’d stop short of saying that the two elements are reliant on one another in structuring the hook here. There isn’t a single part in this song that isn’t contributing to the overall flow of the track, and in a time when synthetic bells and whistles are being found in everything from hip-hop to stripped-down British folk music, that makes this effort from Russ Still and the Moonshiners all the more difficult to ignore, no matter your taste in genres.
Still’s vocal definitely gets its fair share of the spotlight in the grander scheme of things here, but all in all, I personally think that “Cancun” feels more like a bar-brawling jam session than it does a singer’s showcase. This isn’t to knock on the melodies accompanying every verse in the song so much as it is to acknowledge how dominant a force the chemistry between Still and the Moonshiners is in this instance. They sound tighter than they have in past recordings, and arguably a little more adept at reading each other’s cues in the midst of epic beat-driven climaxes.
I was starting to wonder who in the underground would turn out the biggest rhythm of the summer thus far this July, and as of now, it’s undisputedly Russ Still and the Moonshiners. Still and the band bring their A-game to the studio for this latest release, and unlike a lot of their contemporaries both outside and within the mainstream end of country music, they’re not afraid to dabble in other influences if it serves the song well. “Cancun” is a spot of sunshine that won’t fade away anytime soon, and it’s one of my favorite singles this act has released to date.