The song is about a man and woman who have fun on a river in the summertime. Paisley told The Tennesseean that the song idea come from his own upbringing near the Ohio River: "My best memories with my grandfather are on that body of water, and my dad, and learning to ski. It's kind of like a back-to-basics song, which is really an inner tube and a boat and you've got a theme park."
Deborah Evans Price of Billboard called River Bank "a slice of summer time fun" and added that "the production is edgy with a cool vibe". Giving it 2.5 stars out of 4, Michelangelo Matos of the New York Post said that "It's appealingly jaunty, but Paisley has done this better."Rolling Stone rated it 3 out of 5 stars: "This laid-back ode to inner tubes and bikinis, from an album due later this year, comes with a bendy Stones-steeped riff and a clever chorus that's like ad copy for low-budget fun.…If there must be bro-country, let it be this genial." Mikael Wood of The Los Angeles Times was less favorable, saying that "the tune is either a razor-sharp send-up of bro-country cliché — or a pathetic embodiment of the same from a songwriter capable of far, far more."
The song debuted on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart at No. 36 and Country Airplay chart at No. 29. It debuted on Bubbling Under Hot 100 at No. 14, and entered the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 88 four weeks later (chart date May 24, 2014). It peaked at No. 59 on the Hot 100, No. 12 on Hot Country Songs, and No. 2 on Country Airplay. As of September 2014, the song has sold 473,000 copies in the United States.