By Lesley Hastings
Drake Milligan may have moved to Nashville, TN in recent years but from one listen to his debut album appropriately titled “ Dallas/Fort Worth“ it is clear that his home state of Texas runs through his blood. Released this coming Friday, September 15th via Stoney Creek Records and co-produced by the legendary Tony Brown (George Strait, Reba) and songwriter/producer Brandon Hood the fourteen song project expands his well received 5-track self-titled EP released last year which landed at Number One on the iTunes Country Album Chart and featured the Number One iTunes Country Single “Sounds Like Something I’d Do”, the track’s subsequent music video topping the iTunes Video chart.
The EP was a great introduction to the rising young star’s songwriting skills, soulful baritone vocals and “ devil may care” swagger, and Drake has been building on its success out on the road Stateside and has further grown his fanbase courtesy of reaching the finals of the current series of America’s Got Talent.
As mentioned earlier, his upcoming album contains fourteen tracks and Drake has writing credits on all having collaborated with some of the genre’s most well respected names including Brent Anderson, Liz Rose and Bob DiPiero (see full track listing below). Growing up not too far from the legendary Billy Bob’s (where he makes his debut next week) the songs’ fiddle and steel laden arrangements can’t help but transport the listener to a Texan honky tonk where there’s a band playing, beer and whiskey-drinking cowboys propping up the bar and couples two-stepping on the dance floor. But while Drake pays homage to his traditional Country roots, he is not totally constrained by them and is not afraid to bring his music bang up to date in many ways. He has also cleverly divided the album into two halves each with their own slightly different emphasis, as he explains …….
“As a lifelong Country music fan, it has been my dream make a full-length record that pays homage to traditional Country roots, while still bringing new sounds and energy to the genre. As a native son of the Dallas/Fort Worth area, I’ve always been intrigued by the difference between the two cities. First there’s Dallas: a city determined to prove that everything really is bigger in Texas. Then, just 30 miles to the west, there’s Fort Worth: a city that holds true to its Stockyard roots with a taut rope around its cowboy brand. My goal was to bring those same distinctions to the two parts of this album. On Dallas, the songs have a little more polish on their boots. On Fort Worth, there are nods to those traditional Honky-Tonkin’, Western swingin’, cowboy culture roots that I’m based in.”
Having been privy to a preview of the album I love this subtle distinction between the two halves but to me it still retains a sonic cohesiveness and I can see it making my “Best of 2022” list for sure. I love the mix of the uptempo, fun catchy writes and gorgeous love songs, instant favourites being “Hating Everything She Tries On” ( I’m sure so many will relate to this….seeing your partner trying on their entire wardrobe and finding fault with every outfit while you think they look amazing in whatever they wear!) “Hearts Don’t Break Even” ( a Country take on the concept written about by The Script) and “Don’t Look Down” with its gorgeous calypso rhythm.
And then there’s “Kiss Goodbye All Night Long” which wowed the AGT judges when he performed it in the show’s semi-final and which tips the hat to Elvis in the pre-chorus as he sings about wanting “ One for the money, honey”
But I know it’s the type of album that with every listen I’ll have a new favourite depending on my mood and what lyric leaps out ….my type of album!
Drake has tour dates across the US throughout September and October and has recently been announced as playing the prestigious Stagecoach Festival in California next April ….let’s hope he makes it across the pond before too long!
Dallas/Fort Worth Tracklist:
1. “Sounds Like Something I’d Do” (Drake Milligan/Brett Beavers/Terry McBride)
2. “Kiss Goodbye All Night” (Drake Milligan/Brandon Hood/ Josh Jenkins/Phil O’Donnell)
3. “Hating Everything She Tries On” (Drake Milligan/Brent Anderson/Lynn Hutton)
4. “She” (Drake Milligan/Brandon Hood/John Pierce)
5. “Bad Day To Be A Beer” (Drake Milligan/Marv Green/JT Harding)
6. “Hearts Don’t Break Even” (Drake Milligan/Brandon Hood/Liz Rose)
7. “Dance Of A Lifetime” (Drake Milligan/Brandon Hood/Phil O’Donnell)
1. “Over Drinkin’ Under Thinkin’” (Drake Milligan/Brice Long/Brett Beavers)
2. “Tipping Point” (Drake Milligan/Brandon Hood/Terry McBride/Josh London)
3. “Don’t Look Down” (Drake Milligan/Brandon Hood/John Pierce)
4. “Goin’ Down Swingin’” (Drake Milligan/Brandon Hood/Phil O’Donnell)
5. “Save It For A Sunny Day” (Drake Milligan/Marv Green/Tim Nichols)
6. “Long Haul” (Drake Milligan/Brandon Hood/Bob DiPIero)
7. “Cowboy Kind Of Way” (Drake Milligan/Brandon Hood/Terry McBride)