Country music, in its purest Nashville and Grand Ole Opry forms (or its Achy Breaky derivatives), usually has me running for the Scottish hills with an iPod full of Todd Rundgren or Pat Metheny.
But there are always exceptions to the rule and the highest compliment I can bestow upon Canadian singer Robert Larrabee’s Middle of Something is the fact I’m reviewing it.
And enjoying it.
But then a good song is a good song, no matter the arrangement, and Robert Larrabee has his fair share of good songs on Middle of Something.
The bulk of the material was co-written by Larrabee and noted Nashville-born songwriter Jess Cates, who has written or co-written Billboard 100 hits for many artists.
Three other numbers were co-written with Chad Cates, brother of Jess.
Larrabee and the Cates brothers’ ear for melody and a well-crafted chorus is perhaps best exemplified by the title track, a great slice of melodic, mid-tempo country that tells the tale of trying to find time for the things that are all too easily interrupted.
Geared for radio play, 'Middle of Something' is guaranteed to have the listener humming the chorus long after the song has faded from the dial.
Lyrically, the countrified soft rock of ‘Guy Thing’ is self-explanatory but the gal is going to love the twist in the chorus – and her guy.
And any song that contains the line “when we’re surfing them channels one by one and I see those helmets and jerseys on… I’m glued to the screen” is going to score a Touchdown here at FabricationsHQ.
Great line, pity about the grammar (but that’s Nashville country, y’all).
‘When You’re Gone’ is a missing you already ballad that succeeds where so many saccharine cookie cutter ballads fail because there’s a genuine sincerity to both the lyric and Larrabee’s vocal, complimented by an under-stated but perfectly weighted arrangement.
By contrast the light rock of ‘Courageous’ would not be out of place on melodic rock station playlists while ‘Godly Man’ works where so many Christian rock songs fail because not only is it a great light-rock ballad, Robert Larrabee sings of a personal declaration of Faith.
The latter makes for a more sincere number and is a welcome change from the usual preaching to the converted (or unconverted) approach.
But it wouldn’t be a country album without a line-dancing, fiddle and banjo clap-a-long and ‘Round Here’ fits the bill right down the cry of “Woo-hoo!”
Too late to close the barn dance door, boys, this cowboy and his horse have already bolted.
But that’s the only song on the album I’m galloping away from.
Musically, Robert Larrabee is definitely in the Middle of Something.
But, based on the strength and quality of the tracks contained within, Robert Larrabee deserves to be at the Start of Something Big.