Country Trio Midland Says New Album 'The Last Resort: Greetings From' 'Feels Like an Evolution of Sorts'

The trio's third studio album The Last Resort: Greetings From dropped on Friday

Midland Feels an Evolution in the Air, Courtesy of New Album The Last Resort: Greetings From.
Midland. Photo: Harper Smith

Coming off a week that included an emotionally electrifying performance at the Stagecoach Festival, the country music trio Midland have much in front of them, including the kickoff for their European tour and the release of their third full-length studio album The Last Resort: Greetings From.

So, it's no surprise they aren't really in the mood to look back.

"Yeah, COVID did a number on me… but I'm back better than ever," Midland guitarist/vocalist Jess Carson, 42, says with a shrug during a recent interview with PEOPLE from a rooftop bar overlooking the Hollywood Hills.

"I mean, he got whacked," quickly adds Midland lead singer/guitarist Mark Wystrach of his friend and bandmate's extended battle with COVID-19 earlier this year. "He didn't have any stamina. He couldn't catch his breath."

2022 Stagecoach Festival backstage portraits
Midland. Jim Wright

The two glance in unison at Midland bassist/vocalist Cameron Duddy, silently and collectively seeming to agree that they would rather move on to far more forward-leaning topics, one obviously being their new album. And that makes total sense since The Last Resort: Greetings From is a gem for the senses.

At its sonic core, The Last Resort is a fictional place where hangovers are plenty and heartaches linger, where memories resurface and men still have manners, and where the speed of one's life is forever put in focus.

Midland Feels an Evolution in the Air, Courtesy of New Album The Last Resort: Greetings From.
The Last Resort: Greetings From Cover Art. Big Machine Records

"I really feel like it's our best, most mature-sounding record," remarks Duddy, 36. "The songs and the subjects are right there in the Midland lane, but I think we're exploring different things here and there. I'm not sure if that's coming across for the listener, but it certainly is for us. It feels like an evolution of sorts."

Featuring five songs originally released on their July 2021 EP, The Last Resort, Midland continues to make heartache sound beautiful. And it's this sort of heartache that was blasting through the speakers of Duddy's car speakers last year while listening to the heart-wrenching "And Then Some."

"I didn't really even understand its power until we were sending it off into the world," says Duddy, who wrote the song alongside Carson, Wystrach and master songwriters Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne. "If you're in the right place, that song can really f— your day up."

The three country music visionaries have long put much "intensity of thought" into every song they have ever put their name on since breaking out of the country gate with came out of the chute with two Grammy nominations for their No. 1 hit "Drinkin' Problem."

And it's this intensity of thought that can be heard running through the entirety of The Last Resort: Greetings From, including the song "Life Ain't Fair," the only album cut written solely by Carson.

"It really is a touching place to live for three and a half minutes," remarks Duddy. "It's not easy to create a believable, safe place for people to be emotionally vulnerable."

"I wanted to say something that kind of made people feel like we are united as a people," Carson explains. "Even when we are going through hard times, we are all in this together type of song."

It was a philosophy that the band itself put in practice during the entirety of the album which had them collaborating for the third time with producer extraordinaire Dann Huff.

"I'll be the first to admit that there were songs on this album that I didn't want to cut because I just didn't see it in the work tape," says 42-year-old Wystrach, his lanky legs crossing as he speaks. "But once you get in the studio and you're able to start painting and adding colors and tones and textures, that's really when songs come to life. And that's what is so great. In the studio, you get to really bring in all these different paintbrushes."

One of those songs was the Jackson Browne-esque "Longneck Way to Go," written by the three members of Midland alongside songwriters Rhett Akins and Ashley Gorley.

"It didn't knock me out of the park when we wrote it, but when we got in the studio, it started becoming so big that we realized that we needed to bring in a collaborator, somebody that was as big as this song," says Wystrach, who is joined on the song by fellow country powerhouse Jon Pardi.

It's a song that already is being devoured by the Midland fanbase, who has long found a special connection with the band that goes far beyond the norm these days.

"That's something that I think we've cultivated probably by touring more than any other band, I would say," explains Wystrach. "When you spend so much time on the road, you really do build this intimacy with these people that become your friends. They come to 10 shows, then 15 shows, then 30 shows, then 60 shows…I mean, it's like the fans of the Grateful Dead or The Stones. It almost becomes like a cultish kind of feel. But yeah, it also feels really good."

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