|Danny Worsnop – ‘The Long Road Home’ (Earache Records)|
|Written by Jonni D|
|Thursday, 02 March 2017 04:30|
While it may seem like the en vogue choice of solo project, rock artists have been attempting crossovers into the country music industry for quite some time. Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Poison’s Bret Michaels, and Aaron Lewis of Staind fame have all taken the leap, with the latter enjoying considerable success in that market. Danny Worsnop’s decision to don the steel toe boots and wide brimmed hat seems like more of an oddity though. The aforementioned artists are all known for traditionally based rock songs, often involving ballads, making the idea of their transition from rock to country seem rather plausible from a stylistic perspective. In the case of the Asking Alexandria frontman, the move from Warped Tour friendly metalcore to country music seems a little more jarring. Having only recently rejoined the band after a brief sojourn with other endeavours, his announcement regarding this release was surprising to say the least. ‘The Long Road Home’ is the fruit of Danny’s labour, and the experience of the album is somewhat of a perplexing one.
Opener ‘Prozac’ is a promising start to the record; a melancholic ballad that lyrically could fit in with Kris Kristofferson’s repertoire. Vocally however, Danny has more in common with modern country stars like Brad Paisley or Jason Aldean, and this is reflected in the squeaky clean production. This doesn’t take away from the strength of the song, replete with gospel backing singers, lilting banjo and subtle strings, it works well as a hybrid of earlier country lyricism and more contemporary stylings. ‘Prozac’ is easily the most competent song in terms of performance and writing on ‘The Long Road Home,’ followed by the decent enough party anthem, ‘Mexico’, upping the tempo and losing the sombre tone of the previous track.
From here, the album becomes a difficult pill to swallow at times. ‘I Feel Like Shit’ seems to take a leaf out of Steel Panther’s book of songwriting in its tongue in cheek tone, but for all the world sounds like Bowling For Soup performing a parody of a country song, an issue that rears its head again later with ‘Don’t Overdrink It.’ Despite the ambiguity regarding Danny’s sincerity on these songs, in terms of instrumentation and style, they undeniably sit comfortably within the wheelhouse of the genre.
However, this can’t be said for the rest of the material on ‘The Long Road Home’: the overly syrupy ballads, ‘Anyone But Me’ and ‘High’ sound like they would be better suited as part of a Radio 1 Live Lounge session performed by James Morrison, and if it weren’t for the slightest trace of the slide guitar and organ buried in the mix, you’d be hard pressed to confidently label this as country. The same goes for ‘Quite a While’ and ‘I Got Bones’, the latter gaining some intensity for the chorus, but otherwise they have more in common with Top 40 singer songwriter fare than with that of country radio. The most egregious error is the overloading of these rather bland slower songs, most of them blending into one another without any particularly memorable features.
Things admittedly pick up in the latter stage of the album. ‘Same Old Ending’ benefits from an infectiously melodic chorus, while ‘Midnight Woman’ boasts a soft-rock stomp that could be easily confused for contemporary Bryan Adams. The overtly country elements are in play for the album’s ultimate track, ‘The Man’, with a C.W. McCall style delivery in the verses and chicken pickin’ guitar soloing. It’s a strong close to the album, but the inconsistency of what came before still lingers.
It’s important to note that Earache Records are responsible for putting this album out, a label that has in the past been primarily known for its pioneering involvement in the world of extreme metal. Although commendable to add this to their roster of 2017 releases, it’s baffling why they have chosen to do so, or really who this album is marketed towards. Arguably too honky-tonkin’ for Asking Alexandria fans, and shying away from the genre principles too frequently for the average country music listener, it’s hard to imagine this being much of a crossover success. The strength of ‘Prozac’ indicates that Danny Worsnop has the capacity to make a ripple in the country music market, but overall ‘The Long Road Home’ unfortunately lacks the courage of his supposed convictions.
‘The Long Road Home’ is out now.
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