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The Singles Bar: Midland, ‘Make a Little’

Welcome to The Singles Bar, a review series focused on new single and song releases.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Midland have an authenticity problem for some folks. Bassist Cameron Duddy has directed music videos for such pop juggernauts as Bruno Mars (“Uptown Funk,” “24K Magic,” “Gorilla”), Jennifer Lopez (“Ain’t Your Mama”) and Britney Spears (“Pretty Girls”). Lead singer Mark Wystrach once starred on the ill-fated, daytime soap Passions and cameoed on CSI: Miami and has done extensive underwear modeling for Calvin Klein. Guitarist Jess Carson, whose wife is a rodeo competitor and trainer, frequented the LA music scene and welcomed his second child into the world earlier this year.

Who cares.

The music is good, and that’s what matters.

That brings us to “Make a Little,” a hazy-eyed, saloon-style late-80s/early-90s romp and follow-up to their first-ever No. 1 hit “Drinkin’ Problem.” Ripped from their forthcoming debut full-length, On the Rocks, out Sept. 22 on Big Machine, “Little” could very well have been something Alan Jackson would have cut in his mainstream prime. It possesses enough of a modern presence to not get buried in the obviously throwback swing. “It’s a hard living, tail kicking trip that we’re on, but I’m betting /We can find a little sunshine in the night / It’s a back breaking, soul taking road we walk, so what are we waiting for / Baby, let’s turn off the lights / ‘Cause girl there’s just not enough love in this world,” they swoon over a prominent rumble of steel guitar and Dwight Yoakam-style drums, before nosediving into Alabama territory on the chorus.

“So we should make a little / Generate a little / Maybe even make the world a better place a little,” Wystrach whispers over a syncopated, honky-tonk-strewn melody, tossed over the sexual innuendos with nonchalant command ⎯⎯ moments later, he makes explicit reference to Alabama’s 1983 hit “Dixieland Delight.” He continues schmoozing the listener: “We could turtle dove, Dixieland delight/ You know it can’t be wrong when it feels so right / It all comes down to you and me girl / There’s just not enough love in the world / So we should make a little / Then make a little more tonight.”

The trio wrote the mid-tempo jingle with industry stalwarts Shane McAnally (Sam Hunt, Kacey Musgraves) and Josh Osborne (Miranda Lambert, Old Dominion). Whether you consider their backstory a road block to authenticity or not, you’ve gotta hand it to the boys. They clearly know what they want, what style works best and exactly how to capture that bittersweet nostalgia currently flooding popular culture. Following last year’s heartwarming self-titled debut EP, containing standouts in “Burn Out” and “This Old Heart,” their album is promising. Let’s give them a chance before we dismiss out of hand.

Grade: 3 out of 5

Listen below:

Photo Credit: Harper Smith

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Jason Scott

Editor-in-Chief of the Badlands, spinning those B-Sides. Love Parks & Rec. Addicted to high-priced coffee drinks, alt-country and synth-pop, and never know when to quit. Got a cat named Jake--and she doesn't like you very much.