Midland return with a fine well balanced country album.
Boy, these guys can write a chorus, especially when famed songwriters Shane McAnally and Josh Osbourne (also co-producers) are involved. Midland is a three piece retro country group (Mark Wystrach, Jess Carson and Cameron Duddy) who burst onto the country music scene in 2017 with the album ‘Let it Roll’, which included the Grammy-winning song ‘Drinkin’ Problem‘. Their music, with shades of 80s country rock and updated George Strait, provided an antidote to the ubiquitous bro-country sounds dominating country radio and they had instant success in the charts and on the road. The new third album is ‘The Last Resort’, which has already been trailered in an EP last year when five songs including the title track were released.
The album kicks off with said title track, a mid-tempo song about the inability to cope with a relationship breakup, and diving into the dreaded alcohol to help survive it. This song, like many that follow, has a killer chorus. Mark Wystrach takes most of the lead vocals and he has a strong, warm and welcoming, if undynamic, voice. The harmonies from the other two, when they kick in, are great – you will be singing along after a couple of plays. Many of the songs reference drinking without it being drinking for drinking’s sake – more as a prop for the heartbroken lover, as in ‘And Then Some‘ “ Finally shaved my face again, and I finally opened the window shades, and I was able to get up without whiskey in my coffee cup today” or “I’ve got a long, longneck way to go, well these heartbreak beers, they go down fast, but this getting over you is goin’ down slow”, from ‘Longneck way to go’.
The album is well balanced with some really nice ballads – ‘Sunrise Tells the Story’ is probably the centrepiece of the whole album, a luscious track of smoldering sensuality ”now we can’t hide the evidence, it’s scattered everywhere in all its naked glory, the night knows the truth, but sunrise tells the story” goes the chorus. The mid tempo songs are especially catchy. ‘Life Ain’t Fair‘, a Jess Carson solo write, is a dead ringer for Desperado – era Eagles. The rockers are less successful, and Cameron Duddy’s solo write ‘King of Saturday Night‘ (with its incongruous saxophone) is rather a clunker, more attuned to bro-country yee-haw music. Sadly it is the longest track on the album, where most run well under 4 minutes. The result is that virtually all the songs are little complete vignettes (of love lost or potentially found mostly) leaving the listener satisfied yet wanting more. There are no overlong or overblown solos, just some very tasteful short guitar breaks and washes of keyboards throughout, with perhaps a slightly harder rock edge than the previous albums
It is a pity that so much of the album has already appeared on an EP last year. Nevertheless ‘The Last Resort‘ is a fun album, one to enjoy and sing along to and it will undoubtedly extend Midland’s current run of success.