Singer/ songwriter Mickey Lamantia ‘s new album Every Bad Habit was released yesterday and is everything fans wanted from the artist, containing all the elements of outlaw country, patriotism, family, whiskey and firearms. Lamantia worked with Nashville producer Bill McDermott who has made records for Tim McGraw, Emmy Lou Harris and John Michael Montgomery. Lamantia’s album stands out not only for it’s unique traditionalism, but also for the complete lack of the trendy, hipster, may-or-may-not-be-Americana sound currently saturating the independent market. It is 100% outlaw and he has no interest in esoteric arguments on that brand. Lamantia has carved his own path in the music industry, going around obstacles rather than through them. He uses social media to reach his fans and they are loyal. His show Whiskey Wednsdays on Facebook is sponsored by Sons of Liberty Whiskey Co., and gets 10,000 to 20,000 views per week. He opened for Mickey Gilley in Nashville last year and played the Tumbleweed Outlaw Music festival in Kansas City with Jamey Johnon, Cody Jinks, Whitey Morgan and many others dominating the subgenre.
Lamantia opens his first full-length album with respect and homage to his personal past with “6 CANS”, an idyllic song about his parents making the best of life together with just a six-pack of beer, some vinyl and one another. His weighty, dark voice gasps the listener’s attention and leads them through a tunnel of affectionate imagery as if the characters are living privately behind glass walls, while the rest of us gaze upon them trying to gleen some wisdom. The guitar stays soft but provides a crunchy, retro texture while Robbie Turner (Waylon Jennings steel player) bends the notes of his pedal steel into something that sounds more like a violin, keeping us afloat in our observations. While it has all the old-school romance of George Strait’s “I Just Want to Dance with You” and the modern grit of Cody Jinks’s “We’re Gonna Dance”, this song is oddly nostalgic while still being completely original.
“Heavy Dose of You” follows with a completely different mood and is a bewitching display of Lamantia’s story telling ability. The loneliness of a desert song (like Michael Martin Murphy’s “Red River Valley”) combined with his chesty vocals create an earnest tension that makes any distraught lover run back for more of what they just can’t quit. Pat McGrath’s gentle mandolin sprinkles elements of innocence while Ray Barnett provides alluring harmonies. The song feels something like “Sunday Morning Coming Down”, both literally and figuratively.
In the church of country music, it doesn’t get any better than “Every Bad Habit”. Our prophets and saints are made up of song slingers and outlaws while weed, pills, fights and a middle finger at convention make up the list of temptations and sins. Lamantia’s list looks just like those of his heroes and he knows he stands on their shoulders when it comes to songwriting. Turner’s steel weeps like congregational cries from the pews bearing witness to the message while Tommy Harden’s easy drums keep boots shuffling a velvety smooth two-step.
The intricate simplicity of “How Do I Say Goodbye” moves anyone who has ever lost a loving parent. While Lamantia keeps the lyrics honest and childlike, McGrath’s acoustic guitar rocks the listener’s heart like a comforting lullaby.
“Outlaw Life” is a signature song for Lamantia and he is the perfect person to pen this prose. Having worked as a Rhode Island correctional officer for twenty years, he has had plenty of inspiration. Knowing first hand how simple mistakes, bad decisions and the wrong people can uproot and change the course of a man’s life, Lamantia acts as a voice for those who no longer have one and he does it with sincerity. “Outlaw Uprising” follows as a message of discontent for pop country music and it’s desperate attempt to appease the masses. “Take Our Country Back” unfolds with groovy bass by David Francis and continues Lamantia’s lament for pushing aside what is popular in both music and politics. Justin Ostrander’s swampy riffs add interesting layers while Turner’s spaghetti western surprises float just beneath the surface.
“The ATF Song” is not only about alcohol, tobacco and firearms but also whiskey, beer and a life working overtime. This good-timing song is a throwback to the sound of some of Travis Tritt’s work like “Country Club”. Heavier on the drums than most of Lamantia’s other songs, ATF has a rock-n-roll feel similar to artist like Toby Keith or Montgomery Gentry. This will be the one Lamantia’s fans will request for a lifetime.
“When I Get On A Roll” is the story of that guy we all know. He’s at his best when he’s wasted but it’s also when he is the most destructive. He promises every time will be the last time but it never is and “joie de vivre” always takes precedence. Lamantia chooses to lay the lyrics over beautiful acoustic guitar, heart breaking pedal steel and a slow, sorrowful tempo. Lamantia closes his album with “Whiskey On My Breath”, an upbeat show of Lamantia’s deep appreciation of the substance. The song is purposely under produced giving it an edgy, raw, unfinished feel that perfectly ends the album.
Every Bad Habit is a superb album with production value that fills the room. It can be found on iTunes and Spotify while signed, hard copies of the CD may be purchased through the artists website.