Chicago-based folk-rock/Americana outfit Midnight Canyon introduces their self-titled debut EP, recorded at Giant Ravine in Highland Park, Illinois, and produced by Danny Chaimson.
Midnight Canyon is made up of Pat McKillen (lead vocals, 12-string guitar), Packy Lundholm (bass, electric guitar, B3 organ, backing vocals), and Danny Chaimson (piano, backing vocals). Special guest Jordan Kozer plays drums on the EP.
The band’s existence is about 80% happenstance and 20%t manifest destiny. Or maybe it’s the other way around: 80% destiny and 20% luck. It happened during quarantine, when three artists in Chicago decided to get together and jam. Everyone’s calendars was a clean slate. So, Danny Chaimson picked up the phone and called Packy Lundholm and Pat McKillen, asking them if they wanted to set up some jam sessions.
When the trio began jamming, they discovered magical chemistry bubbling up – the jams transformed into songs. They brought in drummer Jordan Kozer to round out the music and recorded the songs live, followed by shaping the tracks in Chaimson’s home studio.
The end product was good. In fact, it was so good they decided to release an EP. They selected five songs for the EP, which owes its materialization to the arrival of an unexpected lockdown, followed by a group of artists coming together to, in effect, do what they like to do – play music. Sans an agenda, the EP mirrors the essential purity of art – creating something out of nothing, simply for aesthetic pleasure.
The music on the EP is unique, echoing influences from artists such as Fleetwood Mac, Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen, and Dire Straits, i.e., tasty amalgams of country, rock, and Americana. Yet at the same time, the trio injects contemporary elements of indie savors, hints of folk, the muscle of rock, and pop flavors. Thus, the EP blends traditional sounds with tinctures of modern-day substance.
Midnight Canyon begins with “Where The Ocean Starts,” opening on low-slung gleaming guitars accented by a rolling bassline and oozing organ. McKillen’s voice, vaguely reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen, imbues the lyrics with delicious tones, evocative and tantalizingly nostalgic. A dazzling, less-is-more guitar solo infuses the harmonics with luminous coloration.
“Angels & Devils” travels on traditional country aromas merged with pop gestures. Once the rhythm takes hold, the track takes on propelling energy, light yet potent. The braying organ gives the melody vibrant textures, adding palpable washes of brimming hues as the sparkling piano injects delectable luster conjuring up memories of The Allman Brothers’ “Jessica.”
“On My Radio” reflects allusions to the SoCal country-rock of Jackson Browne, softly shiny and chrome in feeling. McKillen’s marvelous voice instills the lyrics with melancholy and longing.
“I can’t let you go / Cause I need you / I can’t let you go / When I feel you / Can’t let you go.”
A shimmering breakdown bathes the song in glistening waves of coloration flowing into an alluring guitar backed by coagulated layers of sound.
“Don’t Leave Me In The Dark” invokes the country-rock flavors of the Eagles and traces of Tom Petty. Surging guitars, Jovian percussion, and a twinkling piano lead to a scrumptious guitar solo.
“Piano In The Rain” pulses with darker dynamics, projecting suggestions of Springsteen and Marc Cohn. There’s a Southern rock feel to this track, at once gorgeously wistful and calling up visions of walking through warm rain. McKillen’s voice vibrates with velvety timbres, infusing the lyrics with fateful sensations.
Packed with graceful melodies defined by both elegant surfaces and reservoirs of energizing country-rock, on this EP, Midnight Canyon offers a series of wonderfully engaging songs, songs composed for the sheer love of musical expression.