OLD DOMINION – HAPPY ENDINGS

Earmarked as ‘ones to watch’,  this album builds on their solid debut Meat & Candy with songs that showcase their confidence with incorporating pop and rock touches into easily digestible, radio-friendly modern country. Bright and buoyant opening track ‘No Such Thing As a Broken Heart’ is a crowd sing-along from first chorus. The shimmering ‘Be With Me,’ follows the feel of  ‘Break Up With Him,’ their first #No1.

The new songs seem to have a canny understanding of what fans will want – big hooks and clever wordplay, along with lyrical reference points that don’t feel moored to a time before smartphones. The productions are a shade bolder and crib liberally from current R&B and pop, and closest to straight-up rock is on ‘So You Go’ and ‘A Girl Is a Gun,’ which crank up the distortion. Which is a departure as more often the guitars work in service of the song – not dominate it. ‘Can’t Get You,’ is a rowdy number about bad decisions and disappointment to close out Happy Endings. Breaking with convention, the album version is actually a live recording, raw and full of crowd noise to accompany Ramsey’s rapid-fire musings.