There’s something so familiar, yet so fresh, in the self-titled debut album of Halfway to Hazard that it’s difficult to believe this music isn’t from an old, established band.
But Halfway to Hazard, which consists of Kentucky natives Chad Warrix and David Tolliver, is a relatively young act whose album was co-produced by Nashville royalty Tim McGraw and his long-time producer Byron Gallimore.
McGraw and his wife, Faith Hill, believe so fervently in the band that they hired it as an opening act for the Soul2Soul Tour. Warrix and Tolliver told various country music critics that McGraw and Hill watched the duo’s opening act night after night and showered them with superlatives each time they left the stage.
But even with that support, various country news services said Halfway to Hazard hasn’t been an overnight success.
Hopefully that will soon change.
The recently released, 11-track debut album shows that Warrix and Tolliver have the mature vocals and musical chops that should boost them into the big time.
Right from the first notes of “Countrified,” a song about the joys of country vs. city living, the listener is drawn in by powerful guitar riffs and strong, confident singing.
This workin’ all day ain’t getting’ me nowhere/
A’ breakin’ my back won’t get it done/
I wish I had a dime, I wish I had a dollar/
For every dream that I gave up on, y’all
Much of the album is upbeat and harkens back to the southern roots from which the duo hail. But that’s not to say it’s classic country. The playing is the “little bit country, little bit rock and roll” that’s become so popular in the past decade. Think Keith Urban and Brad Paisley and you’ll be on the right track.
The interesting point with Halfway to Hazard is that the duo so skillfully balances the music between the two genres, it makes the music compelling to those on both sides of the aisle.
Of course some critics – I’d guess country “purists” – quibble about the lyrics to some of the songs. That’s especially true of the song “Daisy,” which some critics criticize as less than wholesome.
There is the back pew of a Sunday morning church/
The preacher preaching gospel that’s when I gave her/
Her first kiss she told me so/
Even though it wasn’t quite the truth.
Call me amoral, but come on. This sounds pretty innocent to me. I invite the critics who bash such lyrics to listen to the country classic “Fancy,” first made popular by Bobbie Gentry in 1970 and by Reba McIntyre two decades later. Better still, check out the album art from Gentry’s single about a young woman who is orphaned and turns to prostitution.
The bottom line is that Halfway to Hazard has got to be one of the brightest emerging stars in country music today. I can’t wait to hear what they do next.