With 250M global streams, six of the top 20 streamed singles by a Canadian country artist since 2019 (more than any other artist) and the most domestically streamed debut album in Canadian Country history, The Reklaws have had quite a start to their career. With no signs of slowing down, siblings Jenna and Stuart Walker (spotted where their band name comes from yet?) recently moved to Nashville in what has been a busy and successful 2022 for the duo, even before the release of this, their third album.
The duo kicked off the year by securing two coveted JUNO nominations for ‘Group or Duo of the Year’ and ‘Country Album of the Year’. In addition, this past summer they landed their third #1 with “11 Beers”, which features country Jake Owen and recently they took home two CCMA Awards, for the second consecutive year earning awards for ‘Top Selling Canadian Single’ with their record-setting track “What the Truck” which features SACHA and the award for ‘Group or Duo of the Year.’ So, it’s fair to say, that the arrival of new album, ‘Good Ol’ Days’ caps off what has been an amazing year for this brother-sister duo.
‘Good Ol’ Days’ is a fantastic title for this classy album full of uptempo party songs and tender, emotional ballads. There’s a refreshing naivety to it that comes across as both authentic and very meaningful in terms of what The Reklaws are trying to do with their music.
If it’s uptempo, ‘going out’ music that floats your boat then look no further than the title track, with its snappy, melodic vibes and classic Pop/Country cadence. A song about making new memories and having great times is perfect to lead off this album. Similarly, ’11 Beers’ and ‘Happy Hours’ continue the drinking theme. The former, a number one hit with Jake Owen earlier in the year, is a breezy, laid back and chilled tale with a nostalgic tinge to it as it tells the story of an evocative memory of a relationship long past. The guy reminisces about him having 7 beers and her having 4 on this amazing day whilst he keeps the 12th beer at the back of the fridge in case she ever comes back again. There are melodies popping out all over this accomplished song that goes into deeper places than you’d imagine from just the title. ‘Happy Hours, meanwhile, is a call and response duet from Jenna and Stuart based around a very funky guitar line. It’s a simple drinking song that lands somewhere between Jake Owen and FGL that makes the listener torn between wanting to dance or wanting to quench their thirst!
If you want to take the party atmosphere even further on ‘Good Ol’ Days’ then you should check out ‘Middle Fingers’ and ‘What the Truck’. The former is a defiant, anthemic song from Jenna that comes across a bit Sugarland, a little Lauren Alaina and maybe even a hint of Raelynn too. A classic ‘F You’ song, this one has some real bite to it and radio hit pretensions in the right hands whilst ‘What the Truck’, which has already had success at radio, can be found on the album in two different guises. For the open-minded, curious souls, there’s the original version, featuring Sacha. This track is funky, bombastic song based around a repeating melody that you’ll either love or hate – you can count me in the former group. ‘Life’s a ditch,’ right, ‘so what the truck?’ All three vocalists ramp this song up to the max in an original and truly groundbreaking way and it simply fizzles with fun and energy. For those listeners unable to cope, there’s an acoustic version tagged onto the end of the album where the repeating keyboard line is replaced by an acoustic guitar making a similar melody. It’s fine but some of the fire and verve is gone from this slightly more vanilla re-imaging of what is a great song when done to the max.
Away from the drinking and the bombast there are some truly tender moments on ‘Good Ol’ Days’. ‘Got it From My Mama’ sees Jenna singing a nostalgic song about getting the best parts of yourself from your mother whilst on ‘The Downside’ Stuart helms a song about the effects of a break-up. We find him ruminating on all the things he did wrong which caused his love to leave. It’s a simple yet effective acoustic number which serves to highlight the strength of his vocals. ‘Hay is for Horses’, meanwhile, finds both siblings singing a very romantic song that really showcases The Reklaws ability to produce melodic verses and snappy, infectious choruses. It’s also another great example of how well the siblings’ voices combine to produce something greater than the sum of their individual parts.
The two biggest ballads on ‘Good Ol’ Days’, however, must be ‘Cowboy’ and ‘People Don’t Talk About’. The former is a quiet, tender, fragile song with a gentle beat and an intense feel to it deftly executed by Jenna, who sings about searching for a good man who’s ‘steady and stable……wild as the west when the lights go out.’ ‘People Don’t Talk About’, meanwhile, is a piano ballad that both siblings excel on. It’s a powerful, uplifting song about the loss of innocence and the anxieties that come from being an adult. An ode to broken people and broken families everywhere. The song, written about their mother Flo and her struggles with mental health, she passed on March 14th this year, was their way of letting others know it’s OK to talk about their problems. The song also contains some anthemic backing vocals which only add to the grandiose nature of this smash-hit in waiting.
With ‘The Good Ol’ Days’, Jenna and Stuart Walker have come out of their corners swinging. There’s a refreshing simplicity to the songs on offer here. Drinking songs and party songs mingle effortlessly with tender ballads and fragile looks at people, life and relationships. Writ large across this whole project and the USP of The Reklaws themselves is the strength of their vocals and the cleverness of their writing ability to produce infectious, snappy and uplifting songs that put a smile on your face and a spring in your stride.
Track list: 1. Good Ol’ Days 2. Middle Fingers 3. People Don’t Talk About 4. 11 Beers 5. Cowboy 6. The Downside 7. What the Truck 8. Hay is for Horses 9. Got it From My Mama 10. Happy Hours 11. What the Truck (Acoustic) Record Label: Starseed Records Release Date: 4th November Buy ‘Good Ol’ Days’ now