Album Review: Old Dominion – Meat and Candy

Writing a review means that you have to be honest about where you’re coming from. So, with that said, I wasn’t crazy about the idea of reviewing Old Dominion’s Meat and Candy– and that’s not a knock on the band at all. This five-member band has the chops, the lyrics, and have paid their dues to become one of the most-buzzed acts in the format right now.

But, as someone who has never been on the pages of GQ, I’m not a fan of the first single, “Break Up With Him.” Since day one, it has kind of struck me as kind of cocky. OK, I say that with tongue planted in a jealous cheek, because I personally wouldn’t have the nerve to say that to a woman. That all being said, the song has definitely made an impact with many – rising all the way to the top five on the Country singles chart. And, in all seriousness, you’ve got to love the vibe of the song – and the video, which is one of the most enjoyable to watch these days.

And, there’s even more where that comes from. The group – Matthew Ramsey, Trevor Rosen, Whit Sellers, Geoff Sprung, and Brad Tursi have put together a winning effort for their debut full-length CD. This album is full of incredible melodies and tantalizing hooks that will leave you wanting more.

Some of the highlights on this album include the intoxicating “Snapback,” which will win you over very quickly with its’ stunning harmonies – an Old Dominion trademark. That also applies to the sing-along feel of “Going Nowhere Fast,” which I can hear being a single at some point down the line for the group.

Another thing that Old Dominion excels at is delivering unmistakable harmonies that will leave their songs in your head long after you have put down the CD, computer – whatever you’re listening on. Great examples of this include the cleverly-written “Said Nobody,” the flirtatious “Crazy Beautiful Sexy,” and the nostalgia-based “Song For Another Time.” The album closes with perhaps its’ master stroke – the sensual “We Got It Right,” which features a steel lick that lights the match and lets the song burn into a raging fire.

Needless to say, Old Dominion knows exactly what they are doing – and they don’t need my advice. After all, if they had titled their single “Please Break Up With Him,” well…I wouldn’t be writing this review, would I? In a year where there are so many copycats, Old Dominion does something very rare these days – their own thing. That’s why it works!

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Old Dominoin Meat amd Candy

old dominion meat and candy


The debut single/Top 10 hit, “Break up With Him,” features Ramsey’s seductive spoken verses bolstered by a spiky electric guitar line. Elsewhere on the diverse set, an early romance gets revisited on wistful, nostalgic “Nowhere Fast,” while on “’Til It’s Over,” an eager suitor is willing to go with the flow.

If fans aren’t yet familiar with the quintet’s vibrant sound, they have heard the members’ collective handiwork as songwriters on hits for Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, and The Band Perry, among others.

In today’s world of prefabricated bands put together by producers and acts discovered via reality TV, Old Dominion stands out as a group that formed authentically through the members’ shared love of music and songwriting. They paid their dues mile after mile; a band of brothers in the truest sense.

Even their name attests to their shared roots. Four of the five members have connections to Virginia: Ramsey and drummer Whit Sellers met in middle school around Roanoke. Sellers then became friends with guitarist Brad Tursi and bassist Geoff Sprung at Harrisonburg’s James Madison University. Separately, they wound their way to Nashville as songwriters, performers and/or sessions players, eventually meeting up with Detroit-raised multi-instrumentalist Trevor Rosen. As they continued pursuing their individual songwriting and session work, Tursi, Sprung, Rosen and Sellers served as Ramsey’s backing band.

“It was kind of this organic thing,” Sprung recalls. “The band was doing as much as we could while pursuing other stuff and it hit a point where things got busy enough that we said, ‘We have to give this an honest go.”

After toiling under various names, the band came up with Old Dominion in 2007. “It was a struggle to come up with a name that reflected our Virginia ties,” Sprung says. We tried state birds, state flowers, and every reference. We assumed there was already a band called Old Dominion, but when we Googled it, all we got was a vet service.”

Old Dominion became road warriors, playing close to 200 dates a year with the help and set-up of Morris Higham Management who manages and books the band. With the direction of Old Dominion’s new found partnership with their management company it wasn’t long until the band attracted the attention of John Marks, SiriusXM’s head of country music programming, who starting playing the band’s music on The Highway channel in 2013.

Author: Chuck Dauphin

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