The Great Divide “Providence”

Independent, 2022

A long-awaited return that won’t disappoint fans who have missed the Great Divide’s pioneering Red Dirt sound.

Fans of Oklahoman Red Dirt band the Great Divide have had a long wait for new material: it has taken a massive 17 years for the group to reunite. After a typically messy band break-up, they finally patched things up – gaining a new keyboardist along the way – to return with ‘Providence’, and it’s an album that, unsurprisingly, focuses heavily on the passage of time. “It asks how much time we have left in our lives and how we want to spend the remaining years,” frontman and lyricist Mike McClure has said.

Aptly, there is no time wasted in getting to the point as on the very first track (‘Wrong is Overrated’) McClure admits blame for his part in the demise of the band. “I’m a little older now, and my memories are faded / Of when I made such a mess, when things got complicated / And all of the things that I love the best / Are things that I have sometimes hated / But I caught myself before I got too jaded,” he laments gratefully on the surprisingly catchy chorus with its driving beat.

‘I Can Breathe Again’ is, pure and simple, a love song and McClure shows zero hesitancy expressing his emotions against a bluesy, almost 80s sounding guitar (that remarkably feels completely sincere) with no need to shroud his words with vague imagery: “You’ve seen me at my worst / I was drowning in my thirst / But you dove in / Right then / Headfirst / And you pulled me up, and you drew me in / And I can breathe again.” On ‘My Sweet Lily’ too, McClure continues to speak with a sentiment that’s unashamedly tender in tone (“My Sweet Lily, of the Valley / a finer woman, has never been born”), just as on ‘Into The Blue’ he sings of a love so great that the reality of it is even better than a dream.

The melodic ‘Good Side’ sees McClure try and look at life from a brighter point of view (“Let’s get back on the good side / Let’s walk right out in the sunshine / The water’s deep and the river’s wide / Got to get back on the good side”), while on ‘Set It All Down’ he decides that sometimes we all need to find common ground to move forward (“What if everybody came together / And we all tried to do a little better / And we set the blame down”).

‘Slippin’ Away’, with its ska bassline and off beat rhythm, reflects on how quickly time can feel it passes, just as the rockier ‘Infinite Line’ looks at how fast even 50 years can go by (“People tell ya time she flies / I tell ya that’s no joke / I’ve seen a half a century / Go by like it was smoke”), while in a slightly different look at the effects of the passage of time on a person, on ‘Until We Cross’ McClure looks at how he’s started to regain the religious fervour of his youth now he’s getting older.

“It’s about admitting the areas where work is needed and putting in the effort to do something about it,” was a quote McClure gave when reflecting on the overarching theme of the album, but that’s something that applies to the band too, having worked to put their differences aside to come back together and make ‘Providence’. Hard work? Surely, but worth it? Absolutely.

8/10
8/10

About Helen Jones 95 Articles
North West based lover of country and Americana.

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