As much as I dislike living in Texas, I’ve got to give this state one thing: They’ve got some excellent country music down here. Anyone who doesn’t believe me needs to listen to this song.
Midland is an “Austin-area” trio (Dripping Springs, to be exact) that joined the Big Machine label back in 2016, and are making no bones about their preferences for old-school country sounds and songs. With the winds of the genre blowing away from the Bro-Country/Metropolitan sound and towards more traditional themes and instruments, the group dropped a well-received EP late last year, and are now set to release “Drinkin’ Problem” as their debut single.
Production-wise, this song lives up to its billing, with a blend of guitars (both electric and steel) and real drums that is undeniably catchy and goes down easy. (Seriously, it’s as if Midland recorded the song in 1985 and sent it here in a time machine.) The tempo is relaxed, the sound is smooth and restrained, and the guitars have just the right amount of texture to set the proper mood. Jason Aldean take note: This is how you balance bright, devil-may-care tones with minor key melancholy.
Vocally, lead singer Mark Wystrach has a smooth, easy delivery, and while the song doesn’t ask him to do much in terms of showcasing his range and power, he demonstrates a lot of charisma and absolutely owns the heartbroken role of the song’s narrator. For the sake of comparison, not only does Wystrach’s voice remind me a little bit of Zac Brown, but the trio’s tight harmonies are as well-executed as anything ZBB has done. Simply put, these guys sound good.
The song’s theme of drinking away a lost love while ignoring the judgement of those around them has been covered by every singer in the genre’s history, but Midland (all three band members are co-writers here) brings a little wit to the table. There’s nothing jarring or offensive here, just the lament of a man content to drink his nights away in lieu of confronting his sadness. The verses are a bit simple but still flow well, and the wordplay on the chorus (especially the hook) is actually pretty clever. Despite ostensibly being a sad song, it always leaves a smile on my face when it’s over.
Overall, “Drinkin’ Problem” is an incredible song performed by some incredibly talented entertainers. The time was right for a group like Midland to take the stage and remind people how great old-school country can be, and with any luck, these guys will get the William Michael Morgan treatment and ride their debut single all the way to the top.
Rating: 9/10. Easton Corbin still gets the nod for my favorite song of 2017, but “Drinkin’ Problem” is a close second. Definitely check this one out!