It’s a blessing and a curse to write one of the most revered and longest-lasting party anthems in Texas Music history. Just ask Ray Wylie Hubbard (re: “Redneck Mother”). Someone who can identify with that albatross is Mike Ethan Messick.
Messick is a talented singer/songwriter who despite releasing strong original music is still most often identified by having written “Everclear”, which was of course made famous by Roger Creager. Messick released a fine collection of original tunes called Bootlegger’s Turn in 2007.
Three years later Messick has returned with an early candidate for record of the year in 2011 titled The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday. Produced by uber-engineer Adam Odor and recorded with a who’s who of select Austin backing musicians, Messick and company have crafted a fine country record that manages to encompass all the best pieces of the country music quilt. There are sections of honky-tonk, parts of Americana, and even some tinges of southern rock all thrown into a mix that is undeniably country.
The album kicks off with “Leave the Rest Behind”, a foot-stomper about using a relationship for all its good for and then moving on with no questions asked. “Walking Into Walls” is reminiscent of the life lesson type material Brandon Rhyder has made his name with and carries a great deal of emotional heft. “Oldsmobile” rides a hypnotic percussive snap to match lyrics that compare how our life story will end up in the footnotes of history like the Oldsmobile and the dinosaur if we don’t get busy living.
Messick’s singing voice falls somewhere between Steve Earle and Max Stalling, and he’s not afraid to match vocal wits with strong females. This album features appearances from Jamie Wilson(“Fools Of Us All”) and Meagan Jones (“Whiskey Colored Eyes”). Wilson turns back up with the rest of the Trishas to lend delicious harmonies to “Must Be Time”.
This album is one of those that features something for everyone. There are barroom weepers (“No Way Out”), roadhouse rockers (“Nickel”), lovelorn missives (“Oh Evangeline”) and laid-back good timers (“Head Start”). All of these and more are done with quality, conviction and a personal artistic integrity that is not easily found. By the end of this record you have no choice but to associate Mike Ethan Messick with these songs and not just his celebrated grain alcohol anthem.