After a relatively quiet few months, 2019 is shaping up to be a great year for country music, with plenty of new album announcements and single releases to back them up. This week has been particularly strong on that front, with new releases from the likes of Brantley Gilbert, Riley Green, The Highwomen, Luke Combs and American Young among others.
However, the clear winner this week was Kendell Marvel’s Hard Time With The Truth. It’s the first release from his upcoming second album, Solid Gold Sounds, which is due out on 11th October and is the follow-up to 2018’s Lowdown And Lonesome.
Take a listen to the track below:
The song starts off with a melodic, picked acoustic guitar line before the heavy, pulsing drumbeat kicks in. Marvel’s deep, gravelly vocals are layered over weighty piano chords on the verses, with a measured approach that stops the song from feeling too melodramatic. The quivering strings add to the layers of instrumentation which build up towards a hard rock-influenced chorus, with a wailing electric guitar riff backing Marvel’s powerful belt. You can really feel the conviction in his voice as he sings and he fills the song with raw emotion.
However, what really stands out to me are the lyrics, which see Marvel telling a former partner that he’s fallen out of love with her – or perhaps never really loved her at all. There’s a frank, confessional nature to the song as Marvel confronts the reality of his relationship, not only with his ex but also with himself, as he sings ‘When I look into the mirror/Sometimes I don’t like what I see/It’s like I’m looking at the devil/Staring right straight back at me’. It’s definitely a twist on your standard country break-up song and there’s something about that I find really refreshing and authentic. I also really like the wordplay in the chorus – ‘It ain’t that I don’t like lyin’ next to you/Just always had a hard time with the truth’.
Hard Time With The Truth is an atmospheric song which draws on blues and classic Southern rock influences and has plenty of dramatic flair, as well as showcasing Marvel’s distinctive vocals. He won over plenty of fans with his first album and on tour in the UK last year, when he supported Brothers Osborne. Based on this evidence, we’re in for another record that delivers more of the same – and should gain him a new audience to boot.
Midland seem to always be the bridesmaid and never the bride in our Song of the Week picks, but they’re still putting out consistently good tracks ahead of their sophomore album, Let It Roll, released later this month. The latest of these is Cheatin’ Songs, which does exactly what it says on the tin.
Sung from the perspective of a man whose wife is having an affair, it’s a classic country tune that sounds like ‘something circa 1973′ (to quote the lyrics), in the vein of Drinkin’ Problem and Burn Out from their debut album. What really surprised me about it though was Mark Wystrach’s delivery – his smooth vocals glide effortlessly over the melody and on the surface come across as quite wry and knowing, but there’s an uncertainty about it that brings the emotion of the song through in contrast to the deceptive, laid-back melody of the song. It’s definitely the best track they’ve put out from Let It Roll so far and is making me very keen to see what they’ve got in store on the rest of the album.