I don't know whether Zach has had a chance to pick it up and check it out for himself, but I've urged him to get the self-titled debut from Halfway To Hazard. I'm quite convinced that he would love it, given his musical tastes and preferences. This is one of those records that rockers with a prejudice against country most fear and flee, because it breaks down all their defenses.
There were a number of CDs I picked up over the course of the summer at great sale prices, and this was one of the best. I took chances on various things because of the lower-than-usual cost, and I'm happy to say that I've been pleased with just about everything I snagged. In this case, it wasn't just the $7 pricetag, but also the fact that Halfway To Hazard is produced in part by Tim McGraw, that motivated me to pick it up. Zach and I both love Tim McGraw's brand of country music, and his own 70s classic rock sensibilities are fully in evidence here.
Oddly enough, I wasn't impressed with Halfway To Hazard the first time I listened to it. Or, rather, I should say that I wasn't terribly impressed with the songs; the music I thought was great from the get-go. DoRena and I heard it together on our way to Fort Wayne, and I don't think she was all that interested, either, but maybe we just weren't paying attention properly. The songs struck me as trite and cliche. But even then, I could recognize the musicianship in the performance. Think a countrified Aerosmith or Bon Jovi, and the original Bad Company; maybe Lynyrd Skynyrd, too, and even the Allman Brothers Band without the long guitar jams. It's clear these boys (there's two of them in the band) know and love their rock 'n' roll, and they know how to play. Musically, H2H is great stuff, including an impressive range of tunes. One song, "Welcome to Nashville," reminds me a little of "Hot Dog" on Zeppelin's In Through the Out Door, but neither of those two songs is really typical of its larger context; so there you go.
Well, whatever the reasons may have been for my lukewarm first impressions, the next time I got around to listening to the record, I fell in love with Halfway To Hazard. I honestly don't know what I was thinking previously, because the songs on this record are solid and engaging. David Tolliver and Chad Warrix (the guys who comprise H2H) co-authored almost all of the songs, along with various other writers (including Bobby Pinson on one and Anthony Smith on several others), and their work is frankly intelligent and interesting, in some cases even profound. In this respect, too, it is easy to see why Tim McGraw was inclinded to have a hand in the project, because Halfway To Hazard produce the kind of thinking man's country rock that McGraw loves. (Hecklers in the peanut gallery should check it out before rolling their eyes and snorting at such a description). There are various ways in which these guys remind me favorably of Big & Rich, Hot Apple Pie, and the Warren Brothers, too. And it's not surprising to find Bobby Pinson and Anthony Smith among the writers on the record, as there are also similarities to those artists.
I've been intending to blog about H2H for the past few months, and I've only grown to appreciate this record all the more in the time that it's taken me to get around to it. Maybe this will motivate Zach to find his way to the store and buy the record, if he hasn't already done so. I guess I normally identify some of my favorite songs when I write a "review," so I'll mention "Taking Me On," "Devil and the Cross," and "Die By My Own Hand," in particular. Good stuff.