Posts Tagged ‘Oh Boy Records’

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.

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When you hear acoustic strum’s and harmonica, you possibily think Bob Dylan—especially when it sounds this much like Bob Dylan. But Tré Burt isn’t just trying to play copy-cat Dylan on his 2020 album “Caught It from the Rye”. He clearly takes Dylan seriously as an influence, yes, but Burt has his own thing going on, and, as pointed out in February, it’s distinguishable mostly for its vivid swath of Black emotions. “And Mother Nature, I guess she caters / To those with white skin / I don’t feel well anymore / To darkness I’m returnin’,” he sings on “Undead God of War,” a protest song of sorts.

But he also succeeds at singing from an even more personal perspective. “Real You” expresses a Leon Bridges-like yearning for vulnerability, and “Moth’s Crossing,” which sounds like Dylan more than any other song (seriously, it’s almost creepy!) is a lusty, lovely call to a potential mate.

Tré will hit home with just about any folk fan, but particularly those that long for a little bit of old fashioned folk revival sounds à la Joni, Joan, Bob and Leonard mixed in.

“Caught It from the Rye” from newly-signed Oh Boy Records artist, Tré Burt.