In 1970, Conway Twitty opened a song with the immortal lines, "Hello Darlin'/Nice to see you." In 2014, Old Dominion opened a song with the not-yet-immortal lines, "Hey girl/Wassup?" Such is the evolution of country.
Based out of Nashville, Old Dominion has released its debut EP right when the lines between country and every other musical genre are at their blurriest. The band takes advantage, mixing in a dose of rap, pop and Southern rock over the course of the six songs. "Shut Me Up," its debut single, features some fuzzy guitar licks and a rock sensibility. Elsewhere, lead singer Matthew Ramsey half raps, half sings his side of a phone conversation in "Break Up with Him."
While it may seem like Old Dominion is trying to build upon the successes of the likes of Florida-Georgia Line, Chase Rice and Jason Aldean, the band has been together for about 10 years. As a result, they have a much tighter sound than some act that was thrown together at the last minute.
"Break Up with Him," even in spite of the cringe-worthy opening lines mentioned above, might get even the most ardent traditionalists to admit that country and rap can lead to a good song or two. "Shut Me Up" is one of the year's catchiest singles, thanks to guitarist Brad Tursi and Whit Sellers' booming drum beats.
On a couple of occasions, Old Dominion shows the worst elements of contemporary country. "Beer Can in a Truck Bed" is stuck on the same dirt road in the same truck with the same girl that's been in half of the songs released to radio this year. The untitled hidden track crosses over entirely into rap and should best remain hidden.