Mike McClure may not be a name you have heard thrown around a lot in the country music circles, but that does not mean he is new to the game. With his signature Red Dirt, alternative country sound Mike McClure released his newest album “Fifty Billion” November 1, 2011. McClure was born in Oklahoma, and has been a part of the music scene for quite sometime. In the 90’s he was a founding member of the band The Great Divide that is known for being a pioneer in the Red Dirt movement. After releasing quite a few albums with the band, McClure set out on a new path and formed the Mike McClure Band in 2004. Since then the band has released 8 studio albums and is constantly out and about playing live music on the road for their fans.
The album contains 10 songs with 4 of those songs being over 4 minutes long. Upon first listen the title track and first song on the album, “Fifty Billion” does draw you in. As you continue to listen you quickly realize that songwriting is a form of art to McClure. The lyrics are very poetic in nature and inimitable. The songs are straight from McClure’s heart and soul as he wrote or co-wrote every song on the album. While listening to this album you get the sense that McClure has many different sides to his music. While he is labeled mostly as a Red Dirt, alternative country artist he himself does not seen to adhere to any labels at all.
The songs are all about various subject matters and have contrasting musical styles. “Little Birdie” starts out very slow and calm and then turns into a much faster and beat driven song. I was drawn to the beginning of the song and found the tempo change distracting. In the song “Black Diamond” you hear influences of classic rock, then switch over to “Hell and Highwater” and you hear horns with a hint of gospel undertones. The album takes various twists and turns along the way. The song “Horseshoe” is a very mellow song with a good sound and good lyrics. It has some great lines in it like, “As I have tried to write my songs, I have tried to right my wrongs.” Out of all of the songs “Old Crow” is probably my favorite on the album. It seems to echo a folksier sort of feel that I found refreshing.
While I truly admire the artistry of the songwriting, overall the album was not as notable. It was just mediocre. If you happen to be a hard core country music fan I would caution that McClure’s album would be a far different sound than other artists being played on the radio today. However if you have a broader musical pallet you may appreciate the diverse sounds of the Mike McClure Band.