Yet another sign that actual country music from actual country artists is on the march in an advantageous manner these days is all of the albums, EPs, and artists emanating from major labels lately who actually fit the bill, and you can add this new 5-song title from Broken Bow recording artist and Fort Worth-native Drake Milligan at or near the top of the heep.
Drake Milligan isn’t exactly a new kid on the block, though you may need a quick refresher to remember his name. The heartthrob starred as none other than a young Elvis Presley in the highly-regarded television series Sun Records that aired on CMT in 2017 written by Hank Williams biographer Collin Escott. It was about the best thing CMT has done in years, though it only lasted one season, and Drake Milligan was a big part of its critical acclaim and appeal.
But believe it or not, that might not be the most interesting note about Drake Milligan’s career arc. In 2018 after Sun Records ended, Milligan tried out for American Idol singing a George Strait song, ultimately impressing the judges and earning a golden ticket to Hollywood. But instead of soldiering on through the competition as an early bet to do well or win the competition, Drake bowed out unexpectedly, not wanting to besmirch the artistry and sincerity he hopes his career is known for with an Idol appearance.
This brings us back to this five-song EP with songs all co-written by Milligan. As you may know, EPs are rarely talked about around these parts unless something went totally right or completely wrong. In this case, it’s the former. There’s no reinventing of the wheel here, it’s just great 80’s inspired well-written classic country music done right that’s super easy to warm up to.
With a great voice, this 23-year-old injects new vigor and a youthful point of view into timeless country themes while avoiding list-y or whiskey cliches for the most part, backed by flawless and twangy music. The dude’s got the disposition of George Strait, with the smoothness and cool factor of Chris Isaak. And let’s just say it: The fact that Drake Milligan is so young and hunky with an established name already, and has decided to spend his time singing traditional country music is what helps make this project so interesting and important.
Of course the problem with this EP is that it’s just an EP. With only five song, it’s difficult to come to any strong conclusions, while a full-length album would have likely garnered more attention. But if you are going to release an EP, at the beginning of your career when you’re trying to create attention for yourself is a good time to do it, and leave the audience intrigued and wanting more. Drake Milligan definitely accomplishes this here.
So there’s still some stuff left to be determined when it comes to Drake Milligan. But from what we’ve seen and heard so far, we’ve got yet another big prospect who will hopefully be entertaining us and helping to save country music in the coming years, with the backing of a big label that at least at the moment is allowing this young man to be himself.
Great little EP.
1 3/4 Guns Up (8/10)