First, I want to cover the previously released material. “Bottom of the Sea” and “Rock & Roll” come from McConnell’s 2014 EP, The B-Side Sessions. “Bottom of the Sea” is a song about seizing the day and living life without fear, plunging fully into everything that we do. It’s a great song with a time-honored message, but McConnell manages to make it sound fresh.
“Rock & Roll” asks “give me something that’s real like rock and roll.” This is a song that really cuts at what’s wrong with mainstream country music today. McConnell sings, “everything is perfect, everything is clean, just an imitation of what it used to be,” accusing the music of today of not having any real feeling or meaning. It even takes a cut at the overuse of auto-tune by remarking that songs used to be sung out of tune and “you could hear a heartbeat through the radio.”
“Maybe You Can Love Me Anyway” and “Gravity” both come off of Saints. Thieves. Liars. In “Maybe You Can Love Me Anyway,” McConnell sings of holding someone back and being a burden on the one he loves. What’s really different interesting about this song is that there’s no solid resolution. McConnell isn’t singing about setting this person free, nor is he singing about being in a place where she is leaving; instead, he admits his faults and hopes that she will love him in spite of them. It is an amazing song.
“Gravity” is a song about being lost without the one who the singer loved. McConnell compares himself to being lost in space with nowhere to go as gravity has let go and kept him from being grounded. He contemplates that it’s something that is not realized until it has all fully happened; you don’t notice it as it is happening.
Now, on to the new songs. The first new song on the collection is “Ghost Town,” the second track of the collection. “Ghost Town” reflects on memories, both good and bad, that come in a hometown and that everything hosts “apparition memories.” Even when McConnell is singing these well-known themes, he keeps his music honest and authentic and it never feels false or forced. His vocals are top-notch.
“Hey Mary” is the second new song and also the shortest song in the collection. It’s a simple love song, and probably the weakest song of the collection. Even as the weakest song though, it’s still damn good: it’s got a catchy beat and infectious melody.
Overall, there’s nothing to complain about with this collection. Hopefully, we’ll be getting new music from McConnell soon. He hasn’t put out a full-length album since 2012’s stellar Midland. He has indicated that he is back in the studio, so there is a good chance of new music later this year.