Country Music People October 2017 - Page 34

MIDLAND On The Rocks  Lonely For You Only / Make A Little / Drinkin’ Problem / At Least You Cried / Burn Out / Out Of Sight / More Than A Fever / Check Cashin’ Country / Nothin’ New Under The Neon / This Old Heart / Altitude Adjustment / Electric Rodeo / Somewhere On The Wind Producers: Josh Osborne, Shane McAnally & Dann Huff Big Machine 45:27 Unless you’re fifteen you probably don’t pay too much attention to what’s happening on the country charts anymore. It seems like these days everybody sounds as though they’re auditioning to get 34 cmp - OCTOBER 2017 on to The X Factor. So how in all that is holy have Midland been on the charts for about six months with their Top Ten single Drinkin’ Problem? Surely this can’t be right. An actual song that sounds like country in the Top Ten of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Take a look at these guys… like some Gram Parsons Cosmic Cowboy meets Johnny Depp image, and in their videos they look like they dropped straight out of Every Which Way But Loose. Not only that but what is a band like this doing on Big Machine? The label that has seemed intent of wiping country music from the map is now in danger of saving it. This album has been long and eagerly awaited. The EP from which the single Drinkin’ Problem was taken has been around for nearly a year and it hinted at how good this album might be. All the tracks from that EP are included here along with eight more songs that are as good as Drinkin’ Problem. This trio, named after the Dwight Yoakham song Fair To Midland, are Texas based and have been playing every bar and honky tonk they could find for some years. In so doing they’ve nailed a retro sound that seems to emanate from some indeterminate time between 1972 and Urban Cowboy, you know, back when things actually had a tune you could sing along to. And indeed Mark Wystrach (lead vocals), Cameron Duddy (bass guitar, background vocals), and Jess Carson who comprise Midland prove themselves adept at this very thing. With writing credits on most of the tracks and some wonderful harmonies that often brought The Eagles to mind. There are also a number of outside writers contributing to cowrites and some of them I’m surprised to see on a project so country - like Shane McAnally - but, like they always tell us, they don’t want to be writing bro-country crap it’s just that that’s all they can sell these days. They all want to be writing proper country songs and it seems like they’ve got their chance here. From the opening bars of Lonely For You Only I knew these guys were living up to the promise shown on their EP. The slight border feel of At Least You Cried is a knockout, Out Of Sight is like an old friend, This Old Heart could have been an Alan Jackson song, and Burn Out sounds like a future hit single if the USA can continue to remember what real country music sounds like. I especially like Electric Rodeo, which is hugely commercial in all the right ways, and I defy any country fan to not like Altitude Adjustment. Ironically, it is Check Cashin’ Country which gives the biggest nod to a contemporary sound and is about not selling out and not being in it for the money. Initially I liked it least but even that one is growing on me. Are Midland conclusive proof that the pendulum is starting to swing back? I certainly hope so. This not only sounds like country it sounds exactly like what has been missing from the charts for way too long now. Whether you were brought up on Ronnie Milsap or Alan Jackson this should sit equally well with you. At times Midland remind me of the best bits of Brooks & Dunn. I think it will continue to grow on me, but I am just asking myself whether it’s what’s in the grooves or what it stands for that I rate it so highly. I have a district feeling it might be both, and hey, country music might be coming back! Duncan Warwick