As a music journalist, I get pitched new music everyday. Usually it’s from random musicians or bands who just want a chance to be heard. I can relate to that, but I don’t have time to listen to everything and it’s usually not my taste anyway. So instead of bashing them and giving them bad press, I just usually trash the emails and move on. However, when I was contacted about Dolly Shine, I decided to give it a chance and I wasn’t disappointed.
The quintet’s new concept album, Walkabout, features nine tracks is reminiscent of 90s country band Lonestar and is full of ass kicking raunchy cowboy country — a term that kept in my mind throughout the entire album. While each song makes sense individually, the album should be consumed as a whole as it’s described as “individual tales from a drifter’s diary” with “no ‘moral of the story,’ just straightforward observation.” This describes a cowboy.
The fiddle plays a pivotal role in Dolly Shine’s music which is atypical for the new crop of country artists getting airplay. Smooth and haunting at times, Walkabout, takes listeners on a journey throughout the US. With the train drum beats and whistlin’ fiddle, one can picture themselves in the desert Southwest riding horses, chasing trains and camping — other adjectives that describe a cowboy. The vocals are clear and crisp and twangy. There are enough uptempo tunes that will make you want to two step for much of the album.
Country music fans throughout Texas are very familiar with Dolly Shine. Hailing from Stephenville, the band has outgrown many a venue with fans pressing up against the stage singing along word for word. Anyone thinking country music died with the new Millennium can relax as Dolly Shine proves country isn’t dead. If the band can transcend beyond their home state, they can prove that listeners have grown tired of the formula-infused hits they’re hearing on the radio, and resurrect real country music. Their classic sound fits with Justin Moore, Alan Jackson and George Strait.
Dolly Shine broke out in 2010 led by founding members Zack McGinn (lead singer, rhythm guitar) and Wesley Hall (fiddle). Their first full length album Room To Breathe (2013) sounds like a first-time broken heart, heavy with mellow sentimentality and self-reflection. The first single “Spinning My Wheels” hit the Top 40 on the Texas Music Chart, and crowd favorite “Should Have Known” charted in the high 20’s. In 2014 came their five song EP All In showcasing old wounds scabbed over with a pinch of resolve. The two singles “Her Name Was Trouble” and “Dangerous Love” also made their way onto the chart.
Over the course of the last five years, wayward members have come and gone, and the lineup finally crystallized with the addition of Johnny Goodson on drums, Jerrod Flusche on lead guitar, and most recently, Ben Hussey on bass, each adding to the evolving sound. Having now grown fully into their methodology, Dolly Shine circa 2016 is battle-worn, scarred up and fiercely poised for Walkabout, that hit store shelves and digital outlets on June 17th.