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The BIG Reason

Music, opinions, and portfolio of Mark Eagleton, musician and web developer in Northern CA.

New Country to Be album cover

New Music Tuesday: Dylan Earl, New Country to Be

I’ve had a deep and powerful longing for more than two years, but the full-length Dylan Earl record is finally here!

There is a borderline unhealthy obsession with Dylan Earl in my household. As you may recall, Kristyn and I had a religious experience when we saw Daniel Romano a few years back. One of the most memorable events of that night was our introduction to Dylan Earl. For the past two years, we have reminisced about the magic of that night. At least a few times every week, we spin his Blessing In Disguise EP; Usually a few times in a row; Always with a few too many beers.

We laugh about how every song on that EP is your favorite song—until the next song comes on, and then that one is your favorite song! We laugh at the squatting photos on Instagram. We compare and contrast the Johnny Alabama from Yee Haw from Arkansas with the Johnny Alabama from Blessings In Disguise.

When this new full-length record was announced, we joked (but kind of not joked) about setting up a go-fund-me page to raise money to purchase the $500 House Concert + Access Pass option on the PledgeMusic page he started to fund a vinyl pressing of the record.

What I am getting at here is that I am not remotely qualified to give this new record a fair review. So grab a beer, fire up a stream, and let me tell you why “New Country to Be” is so fucking great.

Is this guy serious? I don’t know. Probably.

Dylan Earl’s vibe certainly harkens back to that of a late 1970s–early 1980s unsung country crooner. Pairing tongue-in-cheek campiness with tragic heartbreak is a unique skill—one that is likely responsible for he and Daniel Romano crossing paths those few years back.

Looking past the mustache, mullet, silk shirts, matching patten leather shoes and belts, you find something that at first might sound like the familiar country ballad. On closer inspection, though, you hear complex nuances to smart arrangements that are anything but typical of the classic country crooner.

Nuances like the way “Draw the Line” sort of hiccups after each of the schmaltzy 60s call and response verses, the way the chorus of “My Failing Life” is stitched together with loose ends in the middle, and how “Snakes (Through My Old Pain)” weirdly changes time signatures after the first verse.

For the seasoned Dylan Earl fan, “New Country to Be” is an exciting record. We have poured over “Blessing in Disguise” and the YouTube videos, and gotten a glimpse of what the post Daniel Romano lineup would sound like when “Yee Haw from Arkansas” was released—which to be honest, was a little rough. I am so excited to hear how he has settled in with this new group, while keeping all the great trademark Dylan Earl hooks intact. I think the dive bar scene has seasoned the group into something really great.

The real gem on this record is “Cold as the Rockies”—until “Hard to Be Her Man” comes on, then that one is your favorite. And then “Gasoline” starts, then that one is the best one…

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