Back in October, I was lucky enough to be invited along to the first night of Country Music Week at Bush Hall in London. The act who had the unenviable task of opening proceedings, in the wake of the Las Vegas atrocity the previous day, were Nashville based duo Jordan Walker and Johnny McGuire collectively known as Walker McGuire. The pair got the evening off to a superb start with a bunch of cool harmony-driven songs laced with charm and humour, while still respecting the fallen. A few months on and the boys are about to release their first EP and the results are impressive.
Produced by veteran Mickey Jack Cones (Dustin Lynch, Joe Nichols) I’m pleased to report their self-titled 5 track EP is all wheat and no chaff. Opening with ‘Mysteries of the World’ which impressively references the effects of beer “It tastes so good but too much makes you feel so bad”, D. B Cooper, the grassy knoll and lost socks in the dryer as mysteries of the world. Take that inventive lyrical content and marry it with an infectious hook, add some spot-on vocal harmonies, and ‘Mysteries’ is as good as modern country gets. ‘Lost’ co-written with Kristian Bush of Sugarland fame is next up and as the duo’s new single it’s guaranteed to be all over country radio very soon. Musically it’s just a little tougher than ‘Mysteries’ and benefits from excellent production and some fiery lead guitar fills.
‘Til Tomorrow’ hardly needs an introduction as it cracked the top 40 and has amassed 22 million streams on Spotify, so if you have even the slightest interest in modern country you’ll know this one already. ’18 Forever’ is a crowd-pleasing reminiscence of small-town America and coming of age “Back when young and dumb were beautiful”. The intro cocks a wink in the direction of classic Springsteen and Mellencamp territory and it’ll go down well on tour, while musically that swirling organ is a nice touch. The EP concludes with ‘Best Kinda Bad’ which opens with the very cool line “She’s a Tom Petty girl in a boy band world” and culminates in a really nice vocal interchange between the boys on the chorus.
This self-titled EP is a fine calling card from a duo with the songwriting chops and that sixth sense for a vocal harmony that’s so hard to master. For Walker McGuire, a bright future seems assured.
Walker McGuire is released January 12th via Wheelhouse Records (BBR/BMG)