Music Review – The Mickeys: Walk Along (Riverbeat Music)

I’ve read the hype. Country music’s latest flavor-of-the-week writes or helps write her own songs…she’s the biggest selling artist of 2008…she’s like 12 years old…I get it. Don’t care…

To me it’s the music and not the hype. The more hype I see the more I assume it’s smoke and mirrors compensating for something that might not be able to stand on it’s own, stripped of shiny gowns, pumps, make-up and pro-tools. I sat through Taylor Swift’s “Fearless” once and that was once too many. As the father of a daughter I’m always on the look out for female role models to introduce into my daughter’s world giving her a larger view of her potential and how she might impact the world. Giving my little girl a copy of Swift’s “Fearless” would be the cultural equivalent of giving her a box of Lucky Charms complete with a toy Barbie that spouts things like “Math is hard!”

In contrast, I would have no problem handing her The Mickeys’ “Walk Along.” These beautiful young twin’s second release is a country/roots act affair that strikes a fine balance of celtic/country/roots music deftly blended with just the right touch of pop.

And you can use the this Kalamazoo, MI  based group as a great example musical AND business excellence. In 2000 Amy and Julie (their maiden name Mickey) completed a minor in music business from Nashville’s Belmont University and then formed their own label, RiverBeat Music, to release their music through, secured nationwide distribution for the first record and co-produced their new release Walk Along.

The album opens with the dreamy Caroline. The song is a graceful stretch of country road beautifully displaying the magical close harmony that can, like theLouvin Brothers and the Everly Brothers, only be achieved by siblings. The title song is a Dobro-backed swagger of country gospel.

Like Swift, these women and sing about things many young women think about. Love, romance, magic, angels, unicorns (okay, not unicorns).
The floating I Believe is about the foundation of faith that can hold a relationship together and Greatest Thing is a song of the power of love and how it trumps all other earthly achievements. Sure these sound like these are worked out in a girls diary but their also universal themes that, in the right hands, don’t come off as maudlin but ‘ as declarative statements against of the worlds cynicism.

The calypso-laced soft rock of Take It Slow sounds like a adult-pop page out of Carole King’s Tapestry. They do one cover of a Tom Petty song “Alright For Now”, the rest are all original written by different configurations of Amy and Julie and friends and husbands.

Country music with a pop sensibility is a shiny but rustic thing, proud but not preening, lovely but simple – think Dolly Parton. Pop music that adds “country” elements – fiddles, steel guitar, references to trucks and horses – comes off as well, pop music. The Mickey’s know the difference.

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