Dark Horse is the new vehicle for Canadian vocalist Paul Laine and his band. I’ve followed Paul since day 1 – his debut solo album Stick It In Your Ear, then moving to his brilliant time with Danger Danger and his modern rock project Shugaazer. All essential listening in my mind, he can do no wrong!
I heard demos for this album a year or so ago and knew that despite the “country” badge on the cover, it was still 100% Paul Laine music and for that reason I love this also.
Paul just has a wonderful knack of writing memorable songs with great hooks and choruses that draw you in.
And his voice of course is one of the most likable in any form of music he’s singing.
Some won’t be able to get past the twang or steel guitars or occasional use of banjo and mandolins, but strip those instruments back and you have a pure melodic rock record underneath.
The breezy uptempo southern rocker You Were The One I Waited For sets up the album with its classy sound and production and Paul’s natural lead vocal.
The feel good Better Days is pure ear candy and features some outstanding vocals.
I Wouldn’t Have Missed It For The World, Heaven Tonight, Nowhere Fast and the anthemic In The Country are all easy transplants from Paul’s catchy rock songwriting world.
The sultry ballad Goodbye could easily have come from Shugaazer and is a killer song in any format. It’s joined by the big power ballad Strong which should be a hit single given any justice.
Would I be as much into this album if someone else was singing? Probably not, as it is Paul’s style, voice and delivery that draws me in.
Its country driven, but the heart of the album’s songs remain melodic rock. If you can sit back and enjoy it for what it is - you’ll find another high quality Paul Laine record.
If you like a little bit of new-country rock n roll, then this album is likely to be on high rotation for many months to come.