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Midland – On the Rocks album review

The fast-rising trio deliver the goods on their debut album.

Midland
Credit: Big Machine Records
Midland - On the Rocks

Credit: Big Machine Records

With bro country starting to lose its appeal, a number of artists are attempting to take Country back to its roots. One act that is fast rising up the charts is Texas based trio Midland who have enjoyed a breakthrough with their hit Drinkin’ Problem. Comprising of vocalist Mark Wystrach, lead guitarist Jess Carson and bass player Cameron Duddy, Midland have a lot more in common with George Strait than they do contemporary artists such as Thomas Rhett. With Drinkin’ Problem riding high in the charts, Midland have just released their debut album On the Rocks.

Those Country fans who are desperate to hear some new music that honours tradition will find plenty to enjoy with On the Rocks. There are no synthesised beats to be found here and Midland definitely don’t borrow melodies and styles from other genres. On the Rocks is a pure, unadulterated celebration of Country tradition and it’s a welcome breath of a fresh air for the genre. The album opens with the swoonsome Lonely For You Only, a song about hankering after one particular person and hanging on for them, even though they’re likely not going to get in touch.

Drinkin’ Problem will likely be the reason most people check out this album and I’m relieved to say the track is indicative of what to expect from On the Rocks. The track has proven popular thanks to its witty lyrics and catch melody. The line, ‘people say I got a drinkin’ problem, but I’ve got no problem drinkin’ at all’ is genius and it turns the traditional Country drinking song on its head giving a new perspective. That’s something Midland prove to be very adept at doing throughout the album.

Make a Little draws inspiration from Dwight Yoakam with its punchy beat and distinctive guitar riffs. The song explores the idea of there not being enough love in the world offering the solution as getting intimate with a significant other. The harmonies on that track are one of the most distinctive things about Midland and it’s definitely where they soar.

Elsewhere on the record the band deals with a breakup where the woman wasn’t all that into the relationship on the midtempo At Least You Cried, Check Cashin’ Country appears to be an answer back to those who have been cynical about the band’s ‘authenticity’, and Altitude Adjustment is a care-free ode to getting high and forgetting your problems.

Closing track Somewhere on the Wind is one of the standouts on the record. Midland capture the difficult goodbyes that life on the road brings as they spend long periods of time away from loved ones. The punchy beat belies the sadness in the lyrics but after a few listens, you’ll hear the heart of the song.

On the Rocks could very well be a contender for Country album of the year. There’s a ridiculous debate on Midland’s authenticity, primarily because frontman Wystrach is an actor and used to be a model, which shouldn’t really matter as this is a fine collection of songs that pays homage to the traditional sound of the Country music genre, something Country music fans keep saying they want to hear. Good music is good music regardless of where it comes from and Midland have crafted a superb debut record. I also love the style of the band with their brightly coloured suits, cowboy hats and trademark moustaches. There’s no one else doing Country quite like Midland right now and I would hope that the Country music community embraces the band, especially when the music is this good.

 

Track listing: 1. Lonely For You Only 2. Make a Little 3. Drinkin’ Problem 4. At Least You Cried 5. Burn Out 6. Out of Sight 7. More Than a Fever 8. Check Cashin’ Country 9. Nothin’ New Under the Neon 10. This Old Heart 11. Altitude Adjustment 12. Electric Rodeo 13. Somewhere on the Wind Record Label: Big Machine Records Release Date: 22nd September 2017

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