REVIEW: Old Dominion – ‘Happy Endings’

Happy Endings indeed! Following their hugely successful debut album ‘Meat and Candy’ (2015), the Old D boys have truly excelled with this record. I thought it would be a hard act to follow, but this eagerly anticipated album did not disappoint.

The guys have stayed true to their original style when putting this record together, both in their writing and musicality, and it works perfectly. I might even be brave enough to say that I prefer it to ‘Meat and Candy’!

‘No Such Thing as a Broken Heart’ opens the project, which I reviewed on its release back in the spring. The song, co-written with Jesse Frasure, is their first release following their debut album ‘Meat and Candy’. This super catchy, cheerful little tune is nothing short of inspirational. While the sound oozes that carefree, spring break pool party vibe, the lyrics depict real relationships today. Everyone can relate to this song, It’s in touch with reality; it playfully references what happens to relationships after all the hoopla in the beginning and then looks at how ‘real’ couples (like parents) survive afterwards.

‘I wonder if Jack and Diane ever made it
After the drums and the guitars all faded

Was the best they could do good enough

Or did the heartland just swallow ’em up
How did my mom and my dad ever do it

If there were struggles then we never knew it

I guess they had each other and that was enough’

Real, poignant and positive lyrics, reminding us to take that leap of faith and always keep the hope.

Moving on to my personal favourite from the record, ‘Shoe Shopping’, a more mellow, beautiful, piano-led ballad. This cute little number wraps lyrical genius up in a love-infused metaphor. Lead singer Matt croons about love and relationships as different pairs of shoes that have us searching for the perfect pair.

‘Yeah everybody’s searching for something,
So how do I catch your eye?
If you’re shoe shopping walk a mile with me…’

‘If your shoe shopping… Try me on for size.’

The show stopper on the album has to go to ‘New York At Night’. An absolute masterpiece; the band have a completely different sound and I love it!!! Guitarist Brad Tursi steps up to the mic and takes lead vocal and the result is stunning. It just goes to show that these guys are a true representation of the word ‘band’. As much as we love Matt and are used to him being the vocal driving force for OD, I love this recognition of other vocal talent within the group. We have in this band 3 of Nashville’s most talented songwriters, who have had huge hits for veteran artists of the genre, and this album is going to show exactly what they are made of as a collective.

This song in particular for me is the breaker on the album, which takes it from a solid 8 to a straight up 10!
The song encompasses a country-pop vibe, and the lyrics sit with the building melody perfectly. I can close my eyes and I’m right there in the centre of the hustle and bustle of Manhattan.

‘That electric energy, something tells me your gon’ keep me going till the morning light
Girl your like New York at night…’

The song is the salute of the beauty of a woman inside and out.

‘Girl you got me feeling… Empire high’

Channelling 90’s Sixpence None the Richer, with beautiful harmonies from Little Big Town, ‘Stars In The City’ sits perfectly in the mix of this album. It brings a sweet, up-tempo, romantic vibe, telling the story of finding someone that sees the good in everything.

‘She sees a diamond when the world sees dust
Finds the glitter in the gritty
I know I ain’t much but.. that girl sees something nobody else can see
Yeah she sees something in me’

Someone that can even have a positive effect on your way of thinking…

‘The more I hang with her, the more I realize
There can be beauty in the broken, if you open up your mind.’

‘So You Go’, is one of the few tracks that brings more of a melancholy vibe to the album, but still powering through with heavy guitar and a country rock pulse running through the veins of the melody. ‘Still Writing Songs About You’ and ‘Not Everything’s About You’ follow in suit. However, we are not subjected to the same old Gin and a Straight Blade ballad with any of these cuts. They are focused on a more breakup, aftermath and thinking back story… but they are not sad. They’re the kind of songs that still touch you and really hit home in the feels department, but they don’t give you 3 minutes of doom and gloom torture.

The one track that everyone has been waiting for is the live cut of ‘Can’t Get You’. Now, the boys have been honest with this one and said that they just couldn’t get the sound that they wanted from the track by recording it in a studio. So, they chose to have it recorded live, as it doesn’t have the same atmosphere and they didn’t want to lose that. I do like the live album version of the track, don’t get me wrong. That deep underground rock, hard-hitting grit is great and Matt lets rip on his unfaltering live vocal range including that epic natural rasp…Swoon! BUT! Is it just me that really wanted to hear it recorded?!

There isn’t a single song on this project that I would call a space-filler, or that hasn’t been fully thought through and earned a place on the track listing. These boys are insanely talented and are the up and coming band to watch out for as they take Country Music and radio by storm. They have definitely come a long way since ‘Meat and Candy’ and are clearly growing together as artists. I can only see them getting bigger and better! Watch this space…

Katie Hutchinson