Company Name

Robert Larrabee Middle of Something CD Reviews

Country music, in its purest Nashville and Grand Ole Opry forms (or its Achy Breaky derivatives), usually has me running for the Scottish hills with an iPod full of Todd Rundgren or Pat Metheny.

But there are always exceptions to the rule and the highest compliment I can bestow upon Canadian singer Robert Larrabee’s Middle of Something is the fact I’m reviewing it.

And enjoying it.

But then a good song is a good song, no matter the arrangement, and Robert Larrabee has his fair share of good songs on Middle of Something.

The bulk of the material was co-written by Larrabee and noted Nashville-born songwriter Jess Cates, who has written or co-written Billboard 100 hits for many artists.

Three other numbers were co-written with Chad Cates, brother of Jess.

Larrabee and the Cates brothers’ ear for melody and a well-crafted chorus is perhaps best exemplified by the title track, a great slice of melodic, mid-tempo country that tells the tale of trying to find time for the things that are all too easily interrupted.

Geared for radio play, 'Middle of Something' is guaranteed to have the listener humming the chorus long after the song has faded from the dial.

Lyrically, the countrified soft rock of ‘Guy Thing’ is self-explanatory but the gal is going to love the twist in the chorus – and her guy.

And any song that contains the line “when we’re surfing them channels one by one and I see those helmets and jerseys on… I’m glued to the screen” is going to score a Touchdown here at FabricationsHQ.

Great line, pity about the grammar (but that’s Nashville country, y’all).

‘When You’re Gone’ is a missing you already ballad that succeeds where so many saccharine cookie cutter ballads fail because there’s a genuine sincerity to both the lyric and Larrabee’s vocal, complimented by an under-stated but perfectly weighted arrangement.

By contrast the light rock of ‘Courageous’ would not be out of place on melodic rock station playlists while ‘Godly Man’ works where so many Christian rock songs fail because not only is it a great light-rock ballad, Robert Larrabee sings of a personal declaration of Faith.

The latter makes for a more sincere number and is a welcome change from the usual preaching to the converted (or unconverted) approach.

But it wouldn’t be a country album without a line-dancing, fiddle and banjo clap-a-long and ‘Round Here’ fits the bill right down the cry of “Woo-hoo!”

Too late to close the barn dance door, boys, this cowboy and his horse have already bolted.

But that’s the only song on the album I’m galloping away from.

Musically, Robert Larrabee is definitely in the Middle of Something.

But, based on the strength and quality of the tracks contained within, Robert Larrabee deserves to be at the Start of Something Big.

Fabrications HQ Site

Ross Muir

Middle of Something is a good example of an artist qualified and ready for country music success. There’s a lot of variety on this effort, which shows off what Robert Larrabee can do well.

As a singer, Larrabee sounds a little like Luke Bryan, particularly during “What About Today.” Lyrically, this song expresses Larrabee’s optimism.  Instead of getting overwhelmed by negativity, Larrabee sings about the good in life and gives many reasons to be happy.

Like a lot of country singers, Larrabee has a strong spiritual side.  This part of his musical personality is expressed via “Godly Man.” It’s a lyric that speaks about his heart’s desire to be a good Christian.  He wants to be a good example for his family, of course, but he also wants to be that living, Christ-like example even to strangers.

The most upbeat track on this collection is called “Round Here.”  This is a song that describes dancing to music and tells the listener exactly how to do it.

One obvious single from the album is “Middle of Something,” especially since it’s included in a radio edit format.  The song speaks about how he can never do the things he really wants to do because he’s always in the middle of something else.  In a subtle way, he also applies this description to his love life.  He vows to make loving his woman a priority, and in a sense telling the rest of the world he’s in the middle of something right now.

Just as “What About Today” speaks out against pessimism, “Who Cares” takes a shot at Madison Avenue, which is constantly trying to make people feel inferior if they don’t dress and act like celebrities in Hollywood.  Larrabee wants to be himself, and wear jeans and cowboy boots.  If people don’t like it, who cares?  He’s going to be himself and not let advertising executives tell him how he should behave.

The song “Guy Thing” is good, but a little bit of a cliché.  On it, Larrabee talks about typical male stereotypes.  He saves the song by talking about more positive male traits.  However, these sorts of stereotypes have been explored with more success and humour elsewhere in country music.  Trace Adkins probably has an album’s worth of such songs, most of which are better than Larrabee’s example here.

All told, though Middle of Something is a solid effort.  It’s not something that’s going to change the face of country music – Larrabee is not nearly that adventurous.  However, it stands up well next to what’s going on in country music these days.  Larrabee’s a good singer, and he creates good songs.  The production on this release is also fine.

If he gets the right promotion, and one of these songs catches the ear of country radio folks, Robert Larrabee could really go places.  Of course, sounding like what’s popular now may get his foot in the door, but it will take more than familiarity for Larrabee to truly stand out.  With that said, though, he is certainly an artist to keep an eye on.  Let’s hope he’s matched with people that know how to groom country performers for commercial success because this is one performer with the tools to go far.

Best of all, perhaps, is how Larrabee sounds like a true country singer.  He’s not trying to give lip service to the genre; he’s the real deal.  With country’s trend of Southern rockers masquerading as country artists, it’s refreshing to hear a recording that doesn’t try to pump up the volume just to get the attention of young rock fans that honestly don’t know the difference between country music and amped up rock.  That makes Middle of Something something not to be missed.

 Artist: Robert Larrabee

Album: Middle of Something

Review By: Dan MacIntosh

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars (out of 5)