REVIEW: Darcy – ‘Hooked’ EP

LifeInASong_UK

Unless you’re one of the die-hard UK country music followers, Darcy will probably be a new name to you. Born in Australia but based primarily in the Midlands, Darcy has appeared at a number of the British country festivals including Wolvestock and FSA Fest, where he delighted crowds with his raw, rootsy brand of country. A self-confessed Chris Stapleton fanatic, you may have seen his covers including ‘Whiskey and You’ amongst many others.

Now, having signed with 4Quarters Records, Darcy is set to release his first EP…and the style will surprise many. Much of the EP is straight-down-the-middle, mainstream Nashville country music that stands up incredibly well against much of the material on today’s country radio. This is something that few have attempted on the UK country scene, and many of those who have attempted have ultimately struggled to pull it off with production constraints. Darcy has gone all out and done it properly, recording the album in Nashville with a talented group of Nashville musicians. The result is a phenomenally professional, polished EP that could potentially be a game-changer in terms of the UK scene.

The real knock-out track is ‘If I Were You’, which, if recorded by the likes of Cole Swindell or Luke Bryan, would have massive success on US country radio. It’s got everything required for a smash-hit – that distinctive electric guitar riff, an infectious sing-along chorus, sublime production and a very accomplished, well-written lyric. It’s full of heart and soul; an emotion-packed outpouring of affection for that special someone. “If I were you I’d see nothing wrong with falling for someone you can lean on. I know you well enough to know you’re overlooking what you need. So if I were you I’d fall in love with me”

There’s immense quality that runs throughout the EP, starting with the anthemic ‘Big Small World’. Probably the most mainstream-orientated track on offer and it’ll definitely prove to be popular in Darcy’s live shows. I remember watching him perform this in Wolverhampton not too long ago thinking that this was just a class above. But that isn’t the only anthem on offer; ‘Hooked’ utilises the signature Nashville end-of-chorus-stop (you’ll know what I mean!). A lovely roll-your-windows-down summer foot-tapper that would fit seamlessly into the Jake Owen and Michael Ray catalogues.

Towards the end of the EP, we hear Darcy experimenting with a slightly heavier, edgy sound. ‘Too Country’ is a tale of a girl who just can’t stay away from the bad guy – “if you want mean, if you want cruel, that ain’t the way my momma raised me, I’m a little too country for you”. It’s powerful, dark and you can feel the frustration in Darcy’s terrific vocal delivery. ‘Unlove The Girl’ continues in a similar vein, providing the rockiest moment of the EP leaving you wanting more.

In truth, any of these tracks could easily be released as a single, the quality is that good. The big question is whether Darcy is just one step ahead of time with this; The Shires and Ward Thomas have found mainstream success with their ‘British brand’ of country and this is a totally different kettle of fish. Whether there’s an appetite for that in the mainstream UK market, we shall wait and see, but the American listeners would love it. For a debut EP, it’s seriously impressive and is one of, if not the best release I’ve heard from a UK artist. Keep an eye out for Darcy, we have a new star in the making.

Dan Wharton (@LifeInASong_Dan)

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