Brandon Lancaster is well aware there’s an element of fantasy in country music. You can’t turn on country radio without hearing a stream of songs depicting field parties, endless summer nights, and tricked-out trucks. The irony of course is that those things all come with a price—if they’re even attainable at all.
“No one can afford those jacked-up trucks,” Brandon Lancaster says with a laugh.
As the front man, singer, and chief songwriter for the multi-platinum-selling band LANCO, Lancaster is focused on something different: reality.
The group’s upcoming EP—arriving later this year via Riser House Records—gives a hearty bear hug to the flesh, blood, victories, and disappointments of everyday life. Produced by GRAMMY Award-Winning Producer, Jay Joyce (Eric Church, Cage The Elephant, Brothers Osborne), the material is about soldiering on against the headwinds of uncertain futures, fluctuating bank accounts, and occasional heartbreak.
Lancaster—along with keyboardist Jared Hampton, bassist Chandler Baldwin, and drummer Tripp Howell—are no strangers to paying lyrical homage to lived experiences and the daily struggle. Lancaster wrote about an authentic relationship—from its birth to its breakup and rekindling—in 2017’s “Greatest Love Story,” a song that gave LANCO a multi-week Number One country radio hit and resonated with fans across all genres. When they released their debut album Hallelujah Nights the following year, they found themselves atop the Billboard Country Albums Chart, making them the first country band in a decade to have their first album debut at No. 1. The platinum single “Born to Love You” came next and Lancaster & Company—the long form of the group’s name—were on an undeniable roll.
Everyone’s most despised buzzword halted the momentum in 2020, however, when LANCO were forced off the road by the pandemic. The hiatus was eye-opening to Lancaster, who looked even further inward to take stock of what’s important.
“What we’ve seen in the past three years is that when status is taken away, what do you have?” he asks.
LANCO doesn’t shy away from the hardships of life on their new EP, but they don’t deny their fans a relief valve either. “Sound of a Saturday Night,” a collab between Lancaster, Spillman, the band’s Tripp Howell and his brother Tate, blows off the steam of the workweek with a slicing guitar riff, a relentless drumbeat, and a “whoa-whoa” finale made for singing at the top of your lungs. Yet again, Lancaster nods to a heartland hero: “Seger on the speakers, teaching us night moves” he sings, setting a scene and mood with just one simple lyric. “There’s some heaviness on this project,” Lancaster admits. “So I wanted a song that was like, hey, even when life’s getting you down, there’s still time to crank up the speakers and immerse yourself in those Saturday night sounds, whether it’s music, the voices of your friends, or even the marching band rehearsing at the school near my house”.
Their upcoming EP arrives as a follow up to their self-produced 2021 EP “Honky-Tonk Hippies,” recorded at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Like that EP and 2018’s Hallelujah Nights before that, their new music captures the band at a specific moment in time: seasoned but no less ambitious, musically evolved but still LANCO.
“Hallelujah Nights was representative of who we were in our early twenties. It represented a long time of our life. But this is who we are now. This is what we’ve been going through. This is what we’re still going through. This is how we processed it. And this is who we are sonically. Yeah, we have five-minute songs now and we’re not afraid to,” Lancaster says. “There’s a fearlessness and an honesty in this body of work that we’re all proud of. If you haven’t heard from us four guys in a few years, this’ll catch you up on everything you need to know. ”Put another way, it’s the sound of a band—creating, recording, and existing—in real life.”
Since making her debut with 2016’s multi-award-winning Grace & Grit, Meghan Patrick has embodied the kind of unbridled truth-telling that leaves listeners feeling undeniably seen and understood. A back-to-back CCMA Female Artist of the Year whose accolades also include 18 CMAOntario Awards, the Nashville-based artist doubled down on that soul-baring specificity in the making of her latest project, The Greatest Show On Dirt. Over the course of the EP’s six intimately detailed tracks, the rural-Ontario-born singer/songwriter sets her storytelling to a high-energy but expansive sound that stretches beyond the boundaries of country—a move befitting of a musician whose background includes co-founding an all-girl band at age 13, studying opera and jazz, fronting a 10-piece funk act that once opened for Aretha Franklin, and touring extensively as part of a bluegrass group. Anchored in the powerful vocal work she’s brought to the stage as support for legends like Dwight Yoakam and top artists including Keith Urban, Old Dominion, Kip Moore, Brothers Osborne and more, the result is a body of work that captures the nuances of her emotional experience with equal parts boldness, humor, and wildly colorful originality.
“It’s always been important for me to be completely honest in my music, but I think this is the first time I’ve had the bravery that it takes to get to place where you can be 100 percent open about every aspect of yourself—the good and the bad, and not just the parts that you hear about in songs on the radio,” says Patrick. “I want to make music that has real longevity, and the only way to do that is to peel back the layers and be unapologetically yourself.”
Produced by Joey Hyde (Jake Owen, The Band CAMINO) and Aaron Eshuis (Rascal Flatts, Cole Swindell), The Greatest Show On Dirt kicks off with lead single “She’s No Good For Me”—a smoldering and fearlessly self-aware track that Patrick considers a major breakthrough in making her way toward the EP’s unguarded self-expression. “That song was definitely new territory as far as acknowledging some of the not-so-great moments in my past,” she says. “It came from looking back on a time when I was drinking too much and making bad decisions for my health and in my relationships, but I wanted to make the point that the first step to healing is recognizing that you need to heal. I’d never heard that exact idea in a song before, and it felt like a catalyst for digging deeper in my songwriting.”
All throughout The Greatest Show On Dirt, Patrick lets her down-to-earth personality and whip-smart point of view shine to full effect, bringing a dazzling subjectivity to songs like “Ours” (a fiery reflection on “watching your ex hit copy-and-paste on your relationship with whoever they date next”) and “Truck Breaks Down” (a gorgeously aching account of “knowing someone’s about to end things, and thinking of everything that could potentially stop them from coming to break your heart”). On the EP’s title track, meanwhile, Patrick matches her gritty authenticity with a starry-eyed narrative that’s cinematic in detail. “There’s plenty of songs about those breakups that ruin your life, so I wanted to write a breakup song that’s more of a nostalgic throwback to a summer romance—something that brings you back to this little moment in time when everything felt right,” she says.
The most darkly charged moment on The Greatest Show On Dirt, “Red Roses & Red Flags” documents the demise of a toxic relationship. With its hypnotic guitar tones, brooding rhythms, and frenetic banjo runs (courtesy of Ilya Toshinskiy, a Russian musician who’s also worked with Tim McGraw and Kacey Musgraves), the haunting yet glorious track finds Patrick’s voice taking on a thrilling intensity as she delivers one brilliantly scathing line after another (e.g., “You’ll be back in the morning/After you’ve paid the florist/With whatever ain’t on the bar tab”). “It’s the story of a scenario I’ve been in time and time again, where a guy screws up and thinks it’ll fix everything if he goes out and buys you flowers,” she says. “He’s talking about how he’s gonna change and be a better man and you’re just thinking, ‘It’s done, I’m over it. I’m already halfway out the door.’”
142 Maple St. Wyandotte, MI 48192
142 Maple St..
Wyandotte, Michigan 48192