The current country music rush to the mainstream is one that has led to much innovation. The melding of the genre with others such as hip-hop has opened bold new possibilities that have yearned crossovers and new sounds for Country to explore.
Heaven, Hell or Oklahoma is a polarizing album. Tracks such as End of the Line are full of heart and a lively beat to play to the strengths of vocalist John Fell. Lines such as “a kingdom, a castle built of steel and chrome” speak as an ode to the American truck driver, a grassroots country throwback. While others such as “California, Kansas, Missouri, and Maine. World
The album, however, is not without fault. It is plagued by slow, dreary tracks such as In Your Eyes and Peacemaker. While lyrically sound and heartfelt, both of these tracks feel lackluster compared to those with a more lively beat. This comes to a head when comparing the vocal performances of these slower ballads with others on the album. Tracks such as Beulah Land and Three Chords deliver a somber and introspective mood without constraining the vocal performance. Sometimes the mood is conveyed without sacrificing the comfortable sound of bouncy beats, rambling guitars and bridging fiddles that the album finds in its best tracks. These tracks feel more like pauses than a change of pace as they sound out of place among the rest of the tracks. This is because vocalist John Fell’s voice is much more at home dancing with the vocals than mourning through them.
Heaven, Hell or Oklahoma is a nice return to country roots. The excellent production value brought to the album when backed by the already insane talents of DocFell & Co are amplified in the best ways. The songs that hit hard and spring to life do so like a rocket and will be stuck in your head for days or weeks to come. Those that don’t never will among the more livelier tracks and will more than likely end up being skipped.