11 Songs, 48 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Sean McConnell’s parents played coffeehouses in the Boston folk scene before the family uprooted and moved to Atlanta, where Sean taught himself to write songs on his father’s guitar. Now McConnell’s a Nashville resident, and his third studio album, Midland, opens with the slow-burning, country-rock title track, with warm with acoustic guitar tones and twangy pedal steel. Over this, he sings in his high tenor about a small-town girl who smokes too much, works too late, and wakes up every day at 10:30 AM. The melancholy in his protagonist’s redundancy recalls a young Whiskeytown-era Ryan Adams at times, but there’s an elegant restraint here and throughout Midland that’s all McConnell’s. Even in the following upbeat gospel-rocker “Save Our Soul,” the parts where he holds back are as invigorating as the moments when his voice soulfully wails out like he’s just been baptized. With a gritty slide guitar contrasted by pristinely produced vocal harmonies, “Novocaine” is a rare recording edgy enough to appeal to both the commercial side of Music City as well as its alt-country fringe.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Sean McConnell’s parents played coffeehouses in the Boston folk scene before the family uprooted and moved to Atlanta, where Sean taught himself to write songs on his father’s guitar. Now McConnell’s a Nashville resident, and his third studio album, Midland, opens with the slow-burning, country-rock title track, with warm with acoustic guitar tones and twangy pedal steel. Over this, he sings in his high tenor about a small-town girl who smokes too much, works too late, and wakes up every day at 10:30 AM. The melancholy in his protagonist’s redundancy recalls a young Whiskeytown-era Ryan Adams at times, but there’s an elegant restraint here and throughout Midland that’s all McConnell’s. Even in the following upbeat gospel-rocker “Save Our Soul,” the parts where he holds back are as invigorating as the moments when his voice soulfully wails out like he’s just been baptized. With a gritty slide guitar contrasted by pristinely produced vocal harmonies, “Novocaine” is a rare recording edgy enough to appeal to both the commercial side of Music City as well as its alt-country fringe.

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