Whiskey & Co. are something of an outlier on the No Idea Records roster, but it’s still a cultural fit. Their boozy, swaying country may not be in the same vein as the gruff punk “Gainesville sound,” but it’s a fitting morning after with its laid back, introspective vibe.
Ripped Together, Torn Apart is their latest, and it’s a solid fit in their discography. It doesn’t introduce many new element; the sound is cleaner and the songwriting is tighter, but the band feels as yearning as ever. As the album title suggests, Whiskey & Co. addresses unity through the struggles of life’s many, many challenges. For those who are new to country music, let’s just say it’s kinda downer music with song titles like “Damn I Miss You” and “Can’t Turn Back.” To grab some direct lyrics from the opener: it’s about heartbreak and mistakes.
With Whiskey & Co. (and many genre classics), there’s always a theme of drinking away the sorrow, whether it’s the lovelorn plea in “That’s Your Charm” (“I love you more than I love brown liquor”) or notes about doing double shots in “Outrun.” Throughout, the band is successful with this mantra because they balance emotion, tempo and Kim Helm’s touching voice, which can sound lost and alone (“Love Song”), strong and independent (“Can’t Turn Back”), and somewhere in between (“Outrun”). It’s really Helm’s delivery that connected me to the band on their self-titled debut and it’s only grown stronger at conveying complex emotion while sometimes balancing a nice toe-tapping jamboree to keep the mood up.
For the most part the album is upbeat despite the lyrical tone, with toe-tappers, duets and sing-alongs setting the tone over 10 songs and 28 minutes.
The band’s output has been slow—four records in 14 years—and that seems about right too. Their music is personal and quiet, looking inward instead of out. When singer Helm sings “Show me the way to go home” over a piano in the album closer, it drives that point home: Whiskey & Co. is about moving on, searching for a path.
7.8 / 10
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