Rob Mayes made his return to music this year with his debut Country single Closer. Having previously released a handful of music, Mayes had been concentrating on his acting work over the last few years with roles in hit series such as The Client List and Mistresses, as well as the big screen outing John Dies at the End. In the run up to the release of his debut Country EP, also titled Closer, Mayes has been regularly dropping tracks showcasing his versatility and range.
Closer features 7 tracks, 5 of which have been released already, and across them Mayes isn’t content to stick to the same sound – and that’s a good thing. In a genre that’s desperately screaming out for variety (have you heard the Top 10 on the Hot Country Songs Chart recently?), Mayes marks himself out from the competition by delivering it by the bucket-load. The EP opens with Kiss the Night, a mid-tempo rock-tinged Country track with a stomping beat that opens up into soaring chorus. It’s the kind of song that makes you want to drop the top down on your car and race down the motorway in the sunshine.
Closer is the EP’s second track and probably the most-recognisable song on here given it’s the one that’s been given a push as a single. The song fits neatly into what’s going on at Country radio right now and it’s the most commercial of the tracks here. It has all the makings of a huge hit and if Country radio get behind it, it’ll do very well indeed. The first of the new tracks is All It Takes, a ballad that proves Mayes is somewhat of a vocal chameleon. His voice here is a lot softer and more soulful than on the previous tracks. It’s nice to hear something a little more stripped back too, especially on the verses.
Road With No Lines, one of the standouts on the EP, is in the middle of the track listing and it’s a stunning song. Combining traditional Country with powerful storytelling, the song has a chorus you can’t get out of your head. Mayes’ voice sounds so strong on this track and it’s one of those goosebump-inducing songs you’ll have on repeat for days. That’s followed by the stompy Southern Gothic-feel of Prospector, which shows Mayes in a completely different light. Think Delta Rae crossed with Chris Stapleton and you’ll get close to how the song sounds. The rougher edge of his voice is stirring and the song’s chorus allows him to really let rip.
The final two songs on the EP are new track Close My Eyes and the already released We’ll See. The former is a shimmering ballad with instrumentation that really fills out the production and creates a dreamy atmosphere, while the latter embraces a more 90s-Country sound and once again pushes Mayes to use his voice in a different way.
My only grievance is that My Heart is Bleeding didn’t make it onto the EP. I adore that song and for me it’s one of Mayes’ finest but I can take solace in the fact that it can be purchased on iTunes as an individual track.
Mayes has delivered one of the best EPs I’ve heard in a long time. When an artist makes their debut in any genre, you want to hear what they’re capable of and Closer definitely does that for Mayes. Rich in variety with a focus on storytelling and seriously strong vocals, Closer sees Mayes setting out his intentions and making a bold statement. If Country radio gets behind him, Mayes could well have a breakout year in 2020 and judging on the quality of these songs, he deserves to be hitting the upper reaches of the charts.
Track list: 1. Kiss the Night 2. Closer 3. All it Takes 4. Road With No Lines 5. Prospector 6. Close My Eyes 7. We’ll See Record label: Rob Mayes Release date: 20th September 2019 Buy Closer EP