Personnel: Matthew Ramsey (vocals, electric guitar, keyboards, background vocals); Brad Tursi (guitar, electric guitar, percussion, programming, background vocals); Ilya Toshinskiy (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, resonator guitar, banjo, mandolin); Trevor Rosen (acoustic guitar, keyboards, background vocals); Michael Durham, Devin Malone (electric guitar); Dave Cohen (piano, Hammond b-3 organ, Wurlitzer organ, synthesizer); Matt Stanfield (keyboards, programming); Whit Sellers (drums, percussion, programming); Ryan Gore (percussion, programming); Benjamin Phillips (programming); Geoff Sprung, Tommy Garris, Shane McAnally (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Ryan Gore.
Liner Note Author: Old Dominion.
Recording information: House of Blues Studio, Nashville, TN; Maverick Recording, Nashville, TN.
Photographer: Michael Elins.
The name Old Dominion suggests something weathered, old, and sturdy -- a description that cannot be applied to either this Nashville quintet or their shiny bright 2015 debut, Meat & Candy. Old Dominion is keenly aware of what constitutes contemporary country music in 2015, knowing that the pendulum is slowly swinging away from the swaggering confidence of bro country and toward a softer, sweeter pop that bears pronounced but understated hip-hop inflections. It's smooth, often romantic music, sometimes succumbing to a bit of country corn -- the band's breakthrough single "Break Up with Him" is a booty call disguised as a seduction -- but Old Dominion wear their cheese with pride and not an insubstantial amount of charm, thanks partially to lead singer Matthew Ramsey's everyday charm but also to the band's impeccable craft. Every member of the quintet spent time working behind the scenes in the Music City, co-writing songs by the likes of the Band Perry and Dierks Bentley, so they're familiar with what pushes a song on the radio, and they also had the good fortune to align themselves with producer Shane McAnally, a collaborator with Brandy Clark and producer of Kacey Musgraves and Sam Hunt. Meat & Candy aligns closely with Hunt's Montevallo, particularly in its casual rap rhythms -- evident not only in the beats that underpin the productions but also in Ramsey's delivery -- but Old Dominion lack the beefy assurance of Hunt. Instead, this is a sharper, savvier variation of Rascal Flatts: crossover pop as suited for an office as it is for a make-out session. That's an endorsement, not a dismissal: it's hard to sound this light and easy, but Old Dominion do it with aplomb and they're such talented craftsmen that Meat & Candy sounds better on the fifth play than it does on the first, and it sounds mighty fine that first time through. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine