REVIEW: Kevin McGuire – ‘Foreign Country’ EP

LifeInASong_UK

With The Shires trying to crack America, here’s another British act who has a chance to impact the US if the fates are kind to him.

This EP has a title as good as its music: hailing from Glasgow (he’s a green, not a blue and celebrated Celtic’s League title this month!) Kevin McGuire is literally making foreign country music.

The EP’s lead track is ‘3AM’, all about a girl calling Kevin: ‘You got nobody else, lonely I guess’. It has had a year’s worth of airplay by Chris Country Radio.

As well as hearing him on Chris Country you made have heard Kevin’s cover of ‘Hello’ by Adele, which has been heard thousands of times on YouTube. He also appeared at Country2Country in London, cementing his status as Scotland’s top country star and one of only a small group of males in the genre, something the editor of this site noticed it when he interviewed Kevin at FSA Fest 2016.

The production on ‘3AM’ suggested a pop-country direction, and that is supported by the EP’s other four tracks. Kevin has called country music “highly emotional pop music”, and you can hear pieces of his soul in the EP.

‘I Belong’ can work as an acoustic pop song with just a guitar; on record it’s surrounded by top quality poppy production. Swedes who precision-engineer pop songs would be proud of this song; it’s the type the Backstreet Boys would have recorded had they been younger, Scottish and even sexier. The appeal of Kevin is extraordinary; he’s like the British Sam Hunt, and his face could adorn the bedroom walls of young country fans.

“When your truck breaks down, I’ll jump start your heart into life” should be a hook line all on its own; on ‘Alright, Tonight!’ it’s buried in the bridge. We’ll be hearing a lot of this song, as it’s the EP’s second single. Will it hit the Radio 2 playlist, like Ward Thomas and The Shires? Time will tell.

‘Late’ (“it’s already too late to move on”), with its processed beat and rapid lyrical delivery, is very current. Kevin wants to break into the pop market as much as the country market, just like the top US acts; Sam Hunt will have his first Billboard Top 10 hit with ‘Body Like a Back Road’ soon, which is his fifth Top 50 song in the all-genre charts. ‘Take Your Time’ got to 20, just proving how ready the world is for poppier country sounds.

As well as ‘Hello’, Kevin would probably pick some top poppy-country to cover; I reckon he can compete with Shay Mooney for vocal talent, as ‘Easy Love’ shows above all. With just a piano for company, Hunter Hayes could have written this tune, a modern standard with the lyric: “I don’t feel like giving up, I found a reason to believe”. It shows another side to Kevin, so he’s not just a pop-country kid. It’s also a darned sight better than any Sam Hunt ballad, and I can hear Gary LeVox putting his own spin on this great song. A Rascal Flatts version would astound Kevin, whose favourite band also return with an album a few weeks after the release of this EP; not to suggest anything but if the Flatts need a support act for any UK gigs in the next year, they can pick Kevin and he will win lots of new fans. I am sure Gary won’t mind me saying that Kevin is easier on the eye than the man they don’t call Gary LeFace or Gary LeBod!

Let’s hope the full-length release follows soon, Kevin, as this is a fantastic five.

Jonny Brick

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