Posts Tagged ‘Die Midwestern’

Ohio-born country singer Arlo McKinley released his debut album (as Arlo McKinley & the Lonesome Sound) back in 2014, and that album caught a few ears in the country scene, but it didn’t make the mark that Arlo had hoped and he almost gave up on music entirely. One of the album’s fans was Tyler Childers, who invited Arlo to open for him and sing on stage with him a few years later, and eventually that led to Arlo making a fan out of another famous person: the late, legendary John Prine, who signed Arlo to his Oh Boy Records label before passing away earlier this year. Arlo, now 40 years old, makes his Oh Boy debut with Die Midwestern, his first new music in six years and an album that’s already shaping up to be a potential breakthrough.

Die Western is more polished than Arlo’s lo-fi debut — he made it at Memphis’ legendary Sun Studio with producer Matt Ross-Spang (Prine, Jason Isbell, Margo Price, etc) and a backing band of Ken Coomer (Uncle Tupelo, Wilco), Rick Steff (Cat Power, Hank Williams Jr.), and Reba Russell (Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison) — so it sounds great, but it’s not overly polished. Arlo comes from a punk/DIY background, and that mindset informs these songs as much as classic folk and country does. He especially reminds me of fellow Matt Ross-Spang collaborator Jason Isbell, and if you like Isbell’s great new album, you may find that Die Midwestern pairs very well with it.

Like a lot of great country singers, Arlo fills his songs with real-life hardships — from heartbreak to addiction — and when he opens his mouth to sing about everything he’s been through in his 40 years on this planet, you feel it.

Arlo McKinley’s official video for “Die Midwestern” from his new album Die Midwestern.