Midland – Let It Roll (Big Machine Records)

To date Midland’s deliciously old school and utterly dreamy debut, On The Rocks, has shifted more than 110,000 copies Stateside and the trad-country trio, replete with vintage Western wear and winning smiles, have been riding the crest of a wave as the genre’s unstoppable, unbreakable poster boys.

A sold-out UK tour – shoehorned into the end of a hectic 2018 – reflected a growing appeal on this side of the Pond and those memorable shows featured a slew of tunes slated for the band’s second long player. Indeed, Let It Roll was already close to completion by the time Midland’s wholesome threesome headed home for Christmas and the band was buzzing at the prospect of putting the finishing touches to On The Rocks’ hotly anticipated follow-up. So was that wild optimism well founded? Yes and no.

In truth, replicating the instantaneous, hook-laden appeal of On The Rocks hasn’t been easy with lead single Mr Lonely a surprisingly rare example of Midland at their brilliant best. Sure, Cheatin’ Songs fuses canny lyrics with a polished 80s AOR-styled rhythm and Put The Hurt On Me’s luscious outro is a lesson in layered harmonising. But where 21stCentury Honky Tonk Band made a striking impression on the live stage last December, it sounds worryingly weak on record – even with that cheeky Zeppelin payoff. And as for Playboys? It’s no better than a throwaway B-side.

But when Midland get it right – and they still can – the trio remains peerless as masters of their carefully honed country craft. Fast Hearts And Slow Towns is a fabulous, retro-fuelled trip down memory lane and perky set closer Roll Away ensures a mixed set finishes on a much-needed high.