This morning I met Mark McKinney. No, I didn’t ‘meet’ him – but I was introduced to him. The first thing that caught my eye was the heading on his press release which started out with the word “Texas-based”. When something starts with that hyphenated adjective, and follows it with the word “country”, they’ve got my attention.
I started reading the release when I noticed a link – the link took me to Mark’s entire album, “World In Between”. All of our readers already know how much the folks at Country’s Chatter enjoy that country music from Texas, so we started listening. From “90 Miles” straight through to “Revolution”, we listened while we worked. I believe most of us were doing more listening than working.
”90 Miles” opens with a little banjo and a little harmonica and nice drum beat setting the pace for some great vocals and a good story. You have a singer, a guitar, a highway, a few bars along the way to play in, and the hope of becoming a legend…maybe not in this lifetime, but when you’re gone, people will remember your name. I usually get at least half way through a CD before I pick a favorite, but I knew right away this was going to be my favorite (or at least one of my favorites) in this album.
”Sunshine” brings that harmonica back into the spotlight. This is a ‘you and me’ kind of love song. By the way, that harmonica we keep referring to – Mark is doing that. Harmonica, guitar, vocals … the guy can definitely handle ‘multi-tasking’. We have his official video for this one posted at the end of the press release below.
I’m not going to try to tell you about every song, I hope you will listen to the album, and realize for yourself how awesome this collection of music from Mark McKinney is. but, I do want to tell you about “Revolution”. It is the last song on the album, and after a rather lengthy musical introduction that kind of makes you wonder where he’s going with this, he starts …”Something really big is about to happen. I’m going to start a revolution, even if it’s just in my mind”. Another favorite song.
To be honest, there wasn’t anything on the album that we didn’t like. Listen to the lyrics in “Monday”. Listen to the lyrics in “Stories”.And, “Stories,” there’s your toe-tapper from this album. Upbeat and fun. Another long instrumental opening, but that seems to be what Mark is going for. And you just don’t mind enjoying the music while you wait for his vocals to kick in.
At this point, I want to let you all read the press release we received about Mark. It is full of information, and of course has links to his social media sites, so please visit those and learn more about this country music artist from Texas.
[Press Release] Mark McKinney has long been an established Texas Country music artist, and with the upcoming release of his fifth studio album, World In Between, he is set to grab the ear of an entirely new audience nationwide.
The album will be McKinney’s first full-length effort since 2013’s Standing My Ground, which included three Number One songs in Texas – the country duet “She Ain’t Leavin’,” featuring Bri Bagwell, the brooding “Lonely Bones,” a song about the bitter end of a significant relationship, and the irresistibly catchy “Stolen Cash.”
World In Between was produced by Mark and brother, Eric McKinney, who also produced Standing My Ground, at Wonderland Studios in Austin, Texas.
Standing My Ground differed from McKinney’s first three albums in that he expanded his writing, taking it in new directions and improving his skill.
The first radio single from World in Between, the tender ballad “Sunshine,” also made it to the Number One spot on the Texas Music Chart and Texas Regional Radio Report in March of 2016. Accompanied by soothing harmonies and desperately honest and poetic lyrics, the song was derived from McKinney watching his wife battle ill health and taking inspiration from her strength.
The second teaser from the record, “Bridge” has just been released to radio and is a haunting ode to moving on from a past relationship. McKinney, who is known for delicately crafted love songs and rowdy country anthems, takes a sharp turn and a darker tone with “Bridge.”
“This song is probably the most honest I have ever been as a songwriter,” McKinney proclaims. “I was a slightly nervous to release it, but we started playing it at shows and the fans really seemed to embrace it.”
Another example from the 11-track album is the song “Monday,” McKinney’s tongue-in-cheek recipe for a successful relationship. The track’s limited production leaves plenty of space for the song to concentrate on the lyrics. “Monday” features only acoustic and electric slide guitars, and McKinney’s 13 year-old son, Jagger, on B3 organ, bringing a sparse but clean and tasty sound to the track.
Going a totally different direction is the song “Rainy Day Money,” where you can hear classic stylings reminiscent of The Beatles, Led Zepplin and Bob Marley combine to create a coastal anthem strung together with another one of McKinney’s signature infectiously catchy melodies.
“We got tremendous support from fans and media on the last album,” McKinney said. “People really seemed to connect to the songs, but I definitely think World In Between has my best songs yet.”
McKinney is a lifelong musician who has been in bands since the age of 12. He credits his family for the musical encouragement, especially his father who bought he and his brother their first guitars and instilled in them an appreciation for artists such as Willie Nelson and Tony Joe White, where McKinney draws much of his inspiration. He has had the privilege to open for Nelson over the years and has shared the stage with other country and Americana greats such as Robert Earl Keen, Miranda Lambert, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jack Ingram, Eli Young Band, Cross Canadian Ragweed and many more.
Country music, Texas country, Americana and Red Dirt, and McKinney’s own brand of music, encompass all of these styles.
“I really believe this record is my best work to date,” said McKinney of the new album. “World in Between is my truest piece of work so far. I’m a songwriter first and foremost, and I feel like this record represents that better than any of my other albums.”
McKinney’s ability to draw people in with honest and clever lyrics, combined with a good dose of made-for-the-dance-floor melody, is what keeps the Mark McKinney fans multiplying and the faithfuls coming back for more. With the January 2017 release of World In Between, this hardworking musician is poised to expand his audience exponentially.
–Friday, January 6th @Armadillo Palace 9pm Houston, TX
–Thursday, January 19th @Saxon Pub 10:00 pm Austin, TX
–January 20 @Lonestar Bar 9:00/ 621 W Wall St, Midland, TX 79701
–Friday, January 20th @ Lonestar Bar 9:00 pm Midland, TX
–Saturday, January 21st 9pm PRIVATE PARTY Crane, TX
–Saturday, January 28th @ I Don’t Care Bar & Grill Monahans, TX
–Saturday, February 4th @Houston Stockshow & Rodeo 9:00 pm Houston, TX
–Friday, February 10th @ Love and War in Texas Plano, TX
-Saturday, February 11 @ Blaine’s Pub 10 W Harris Ave, San Angelo, TX 76903 10:00 PM $10