You love everything from country music. It’s the plaintive style of the writing, and the whine of the steel guitar. It’s a baritone voice that exudes emotion in a way that no other music can make you feel. It’s the familiarity and warmth that a good country song conveys, even a new one for you, that makes the music so immediately inviting. But sometimes the predictability and consistency of country music isn’t always the greatest asset.
Music from Aaron McDonnell’s new album Too many days like Saturday night has all those familiar elements that make you love a country song, but it also sounds like few to no country songs you’ve ever heard before. Instead of relying on the bright chords that most country songs use, which contrast with the often depressed and destitute lyrical themes, McDonnell uses minor keys and melancholic moves to deliver a listening experience distinctly unique to country, but always honored. with that warm familiarity that we all appreciate.
Imagine a country music universe built around the brooding experience of Dwight Yoakam’s “1000 Miles From Nowhere” or Chris Issak’s austere ’90s music. 80s to make it even more unique and nostalgic. This is the world where the songs of Too many days like Saturday night reside, and it’s as transporting as it is entertaining.
Aaron McDonnell is not new to the neighborhood. He’s been making music full-time since 2013 and playing in country bands long before that. He released one EP a year between 2014 and 2018, each containing quality honky-tonk country music, like what he plays in clubs around Austin, Texas. Originally from Willamette Valley, Oregon, he started playing country in Seattle in bands like Gin Betty! and The Grandtours named after the famous song by George Jones.
Corn Too many days like Saturday night feels worlds apart from any previous exploits of Aaron McDonnell, or really anyone else. Orville Peck may also come to mind for some, but McDonnell’s efforts are much more down to earth and authentic, even if there’s a lot of wetness in the vocals and guitar cues, giving the music a feel. distant. It also feels like a fundamental shift in McDonnell’s career. Previously appearing short-haired and clean-shaven on his covers, the bushy hair and mustache now symbolize a new era for his music that comes with a long-running effort to ground him.
Basically, however, Too many days like Saturday night is still just Texas honky tonk music. “Hill Country Saturday Night” with its hard-hitting two-step reference could have been written by Dale Watson, while songs like “Tell The Devil” and the title track reference the hustle and bustle of the honky tonk lifestyle and desire to settle down, despite inner demons getting in the way.
There are also more conventional songs to keep the album sane, like the swinging “1000 Kisses” and the driving “Born To Leave.” Again, it’s all about finding a propitious balance between the familiar and the unique that makes this album particularly intriguing, and an excellent selection for evening listening during a low mood or a lonely Saturday night.
With his band the Neon Eagles, and his wife Dani McDonnell singing as backup, Arron McDonnell spins eleven original songs, and an interesting “demo” version of “Tell The Devil”, which define a new turning point in McDonnell’s career, and a explored sub-approach to country that gives the music an immediacy and vitality that sometimes the same old country song just can’t achieve.
1 3/4 guns raised (8/10)
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