Rosehill’s Blake Myers (left) and Mitch McBain got it going on…

Nuthin’ Fancy But Plenty Good
By David McGee

Cypress Creek Records

The unkindest cut of all would be for fans to dismiss the Rosehill duo as Keith Urban wannabes and their debut album, White Lines and Stars, as hopelessly derivative. Go ahead, though—cheat yourself out of some well-crafted songs and impassioned, true performances. These guys are really good, and it says here the Urban comparisons are going to fade fairly quickly once folks really hear Rosehill’s voice.

For starters, Rosehill—Mitch McBain and Blake Myers, out of Texas—come forth with the imprimatur of one Radney Foster, himself a Lone Star lad who knows a thing or two about what makes a song work and when it’s real. Foster and his studio co-conspirator Jay Clementi co-produced White Lines and Stars, and both contribute their songwriting artistry to several of the tunes (in fact, only two of the 11 are lacking either a Foster or Clementi writing credit). Moreover, those familiar with Foster’s work over the years will recognize some familiar names backing Rosehill, notably guitarists Eric Borash and Kenny Greenberg. Steve Fishell stands out on steel guitar, along with Tim Lauer on B3 and piano, with Keith Brogdan and Brian Pruitt on drums and Glen Worf and Jimmy Lee Sloas on bass comprising a tough rhythm section. Nothing fancy about the sound—if you know Radney Foster you can guess it’s guitar-heavy and rocking on the burners and deeply atmospheric and moody on the ballads, with soaring, singsong choruses and strong, muscular male harmonies over a swirling soundscape. It doesn’t pretend to be alt-country (which one noted country producer once described as being code for “out of tune”), roots rock or anything but straight-ahead, driving mainstream contemporary country.

With these redoubtable musicians behind them, McBain and Myers (who also co-write, with each other or others, all but three of the songs) throw themselves into the material with often electrifying certainty in their messages; that is to say, in sporting terms, the gents leave it all on the field. If one of them happens to advance a surfeit of Urban-style husky sensuality in his voice, so be it. In the end, the songs count for everything, and at least a few of Rosehill’s beg repeat listenings, thanks to affecting lyrics and powerful performances. Twanging guitars and cannon-shot drums kick off “West of Sunset,” the album opener, and as the song unfolds the music takes flight—tip of the hat to Fishell’s evocative steel guitar here—in complementing the story about hitting the road in pursuit of big musical dreams otherwise unavailable in a town “cold and slow and mean.” The notion of replacing the phony with the real informs a lovely, low-key, Spanish-tinged ballad, ‘Picassos for Pesos,” its ambiance enhanced by spare, gut-string guitar discourse and an accordion’s warm, soothing hum in support of a gritty but vulnerable vocal by the Rosehill guy who does not sound like Keith Urban. Fueled by guitars both chiming and fuzzed-out and a stomping, charging rhythmic thrust, “Believer” celebrates the singer’s transformation from romantic cynic into a proselytizer for love. A decidedly Gary Allen by way of Dylan ballad, “Love Burns On,” dominated by a lonely harmonica, tender pedal steel lines, and spare electric guitar interjections, the singer who now believes in love closes out the album by wondering in amazement at the persistence of love, using the example of the enduring affection for a young woman who died too soon and was buried on the same day a friend experienced the birth of his first child—“Love Burns On” is the song title and in many ways the album’s message. And if you’re more interested in simply rocking out, Rosehill has what you want in the hard driving “Sunday” and the blazing honky tonk of “Life Is Short.” Mitch McBain and Blake Myers got it going on, and White Lines and Stars looks like the frontrunner for country debut of the year.

Rosehill’s White Lines And Stars is available as an mp3 download at

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Laura Fissinger, Christopher Hill, Derk Richardson
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