Has it really been five years since “Drinkin’ Problem” was a smash hit and introduced Midland to the world of country music? Since then, Mark Wystrach, Jess Carson and Cameron Daddy have been hard at work on albums, EPs and documentaries that have seen the band evolve, adding elements of the Bakersfield sound, the feel of Laurel Canyon bands from the 70s and even now some Stones-esque Swagger & Simon & Garfunkel love folk. So why, when you go to Google and type in “Midland Band”, the question “Is Midland a fake band?” always come? It’s time to give these guys the respect they deserve. This new album, ‘The Last Resort: Greetings From…’ should finally dispel all those misconceptions as we witness the evolution of Midland before our very eyes.
The 12 songs offered here aren’t radically different from anything Midland has released since 2017, but what they do offer are subtle evolutions and twists on their retro-Country, Countrypolitan theme. Longtime collaborator Shane McAnally appears on six of the songs and other writers, like Aaron Ratiere who released his own album today (May 6, 2022) and John Osborne (Brothers Osborne) pop up to shake things up a bit.
If it’s “Classic Midland” you’re looking for, you know, that sweet retro 70s and 80s country feel with a real melodic edge, then you won’t be disappointed with “The Last Resort: Greetings From…” I Lived Here’, a song about deciding to just live at the bar, because, ‘If I lived here, I’d be home right now’, has all the hallmarks of a Midland classic. This Conway Twitty meets Jerry Reed-style twang combined with delicious harmonies and a final third that picks up the pace as it rushes to a heart-pounding crescendo. “Two to Two Step” does exactly what it says on the tin, underpinned by superb 80s-style production while “Sunrise Tells the Story” has an infectious hook and vibes so sweet you couldn’t hold him if he had bodily form!
Where this album really stands out is on the tracks that do something a little different or a little more. The title track is infused with Jimmy Buffett “Island style” vibes as you slowly come to see the guys riffing on the double meaning of the word “resort”. “Paycheck to Paycheck”, which was co-written by John Osborne and shares a certain genealogy with their track “Dead Man’s Curve”, is directly in the tradition of country rock while the closer album, “Adios Cowboy”, continues the group’s recent experimentation with an Eagles sound on harmonies and vibrations. One of my favorite tracks on the album, ‘Adios Cowboy’ is part Hotel California and part Urban Cowboy, what a great combination it is.
There’s also reason to think that Midland is starting to morph into the country version of Kiss. Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons handled most of the vocal duties in this band, but Ace Frehley got to sing a weird song, so did Peter Criss, damn it, even Eric Carr finally got to sing on the “Hot in the Shade” album. ” of the group. Here Jess Carson and Cameron Daddy take the mic and the results are nothing short of outstanding. Carson’s “Life Ain’t Fair” is a kind of Simon & Garfunkel folk number with sharp lyrics and a whole load of southern wisdom as Duddy pulls out all the shoulders, shakes and slings on “King of Saturday Night” while he does his best Jagger impression to very good effect.
A special mention must also go to two other songs. “Bury Me in Blue Jeans,” which is a simple, melodic song about living a simple life. Classic Midland, even if the melody of the verses sounds strangely like the theme of “National Lampoons Christmas Vacation” to these ears! Jon Pardi appears on the raucous “Long Neck Way to Go” which promises to be a staple of the band’s live set for years to come with its delightful harmonies and extended jam session potential towards the end.
Fake group? Paa! Midland is the real deal. Talented musicians who make music in the style they love. It’s been rewarding to watch the band tinker and experiment with their style over the past five years. If you’ve watched them closely, you’ll have seen them grow into the band they are today: full of confidence, ready to experiment, and having a lot of fun with them along the way. The title track guy might just be at “The Last Resort,” but at this point in their career, Midland are about as far away as you’d hope.
List of tracks: 1. The Last Resort 2. If I Lived Here 3. Step Two By Two 4. Get It Out Of Your Hands 5. Sunrise Tells The Story 6. And Then Some 7. Longneck Way to Go 8. Life ain’t fair 9. King of Saturday Night 10. Paycheck to Paycheck 11. Bury Me in Blue Jeans 12. Adios Cowboy Record company: Big machine discs Release date: May 6, 2022 To buy: Midland “The Last Resort: Greetings from….”