Remember a couple weeks ago when I said that Bluegrass felt like one of the last pure genres out there in the music world? Well there’s a reason I said “one of”. Much like Bluegrass, the genre of Southern-Rock has not only always been somewhat of a cousin genre to Country music, but also one that didn’t really see the light of day that it so rightfully deserved. Oh, don’t get me wrong. We certainly had big names like Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers, Marhshall Tucker Band and many more achieve wide levels of prominence. But as a whole, southern-rock is just one of those genres that has seemingly decreased in popularity since its hayday in the 70’s. Hell, it’s even getting harder to find acts who even want to be considered southern-rock.
In 2016, you have to do a little bit of digging to find all of the buried treasures in music. Oh who am I kidding, you have to really get your hands dirty to find some of the best kept secrets in music. Southern-Rock may not be as popular as it once was in the 70’s, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t bands out there carrying on the torch. Anyone who reads this blog most likely has at least heard of Blackberry Smoke, and they’re not alone in their torch bearing. Mud is Whiskey Myers’ fourth studio album, and with Dave Cobb at the wheel as producer, it seemed like there was no way this couldn’t be a great album. Does Mud continue on the tradition of making Whiskey Myers one of the best Southern-Rock bands out there in the modern world?
Let’s be brutally honest here. Whiskey Myers’ greatest strength has never resided in their lyrical content. Their focus has really always been on fantastic instrumentation and production along with awesome melodic hooks. The lyrics and themes have never been bad per se, it’s just that Whiskey Myers often provides enough meat in every other department in a way that kind of clouds over the songwriting.
But with every Whiskey Myers album, there are definitely a few absolute knockouts that really elevate this album as a whole. Don’t get me wrong, songs like “Lightning Bugs and Rain” and “Some Of Your Love” could certainly use a little more work in the lyrical department Actually if I’m being honest they could use a lot of work. I could also do without the cliché and macho “Deep Down In The South” entirely. But as a whole, there’s more nuance to the writing than there isn’t which is usually the case with a Whiskey Myers album. Songs like the title track and “On The River” opt for more darker narratives, and it’s not just shown in the lyrics either, but we’ll get back to that.
I can’t decide whether or not I think of “Stone” or “Trailer We Call Home” as the standout track on this album since both are just excellent in all categories, and the greatest part of both is the writing. “Stone” is a reflective track that sees our narrator wanting to improve himself while “Trailer That We Call Home” is an excellent tale of a couple who’s struggling to make it but happy with what they have. I also enjoyed the closer “Good Ole Days” for its dual theme of not only enjoying the modern times, but also for seeing the good in life despite the inevitable bad that comes with it. From a lyrical standpoint, Mud continues to be the department where Whiskey Myers could push themselves a little more as a whole, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some damn excellently written songs here.
Cody Cannon’s voice is seriously just built for Southern-Rock. I know it sounds cliché to leave it off at that but it’s so damn true. His rougher, more gravely tone helps to accentuate either the intensity or the quieter tracks depending on what the mood calls for. There’s honestly not much else to say. His voice may not be one that captures a wide audience, but there’s no denying the power and intensity that he brings to the forefront.
Some highlights include the almost anthem-esque title track where his delivery could almost make the hairs on your arm stand up. The same can be said for “Stone” as well. For as corny as “Frogman” might feel, the song is just too damn fun to dislike, especially when Cody delivers the song in a way that helps to make it feel like a funner track. Heck, even when the band brings in Brent Cobb for the closing track, “Good Ole Days”, it just feels like a bunch of friends coming together to sing songs and have a good time, including us as listeners. The melodies on here are especially strong all throughout. Again, not much else to say. Cody’s voice really fits this material well.
Alright, now this is by far the funnest part to talk about. You see, for as much as Whiskey Myers is a Southern-Rock band and Mud is a Southern-Rock album, the diverse sonic palette showcased here is stunning. The album opens with a rootsy fiddle and really captures a rootsy feel all throughout on “On The River” which later shows up again on “Hank”. That’s before we get to the grunge-adjacent title track that comes at you hard and rocking. “Stone” begins as just a piano ballad before ending with one of the best instrumental outros I’ve heard all year with the booming drums and blazing electric guitars. That’s followed by “Trailer We Call Home” which is led by little more than acoustic guitar and dobro.
Remember how I said that some tracks were lyrically light? Well I don’t think it’s fair to leave it at that considering that even the more lyrically light tracks are accentuated greatly by awesome instrumentation. “Lightning Bugs and Rain” masterfully blends in a fantastic horns section while “Some Of Your Love” is a great bluesy showcase with great guitar work to back it up. While I don’t care for “Deep Down In The South” from a lyrical standpoint, I’m not going to deny that even that has a grit to it in the production that at least makes it a good song for me. Not something I’ll revisit but I have to give credit for the instrumentation and production all throughout this album. It is truly excellent and really cements Whiskey Myers as a band that keeps on growing.
Mud is yet another great album from Whiskey Myers. After researching their past discography prior to this review, I would say this is better than Firewater and right on par with Early Morning Shakes. As I said before, the writing could be vastly improved on some track, especially since some of the more Southern oriented tracks don’t connect with me a whole lot. But hey, those are my personal criticisms, not ones that stretch towards anyone else. Besides, the vocals along with the instrumentation and production do enough to elevate Mud to a greater level. Southern-Rock didn’t die in the 1970’s, it’s alive in bands like Whiskey Myers.
Whiskey Myers is:
Cody Cannon – Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Cody Tate – Lead and Rhythym Guitar
John Jeffers – Lead and Rhythym Guitar, Backing Vocals
Jeff Hogg – Drums
Gary Brown – Bass