Dark Horse – Let It Ride


Review by Brian McGowan

Fuel The Jet Records

Release date: 29 April 2014

Danger Danger have a permanent place in the hearts of every melodic rock aficionado. The band’s original vocalist, Paul Laine is something of a rock music renaissance man, a successful solo vocalist, music manager and vocal arranger (for The Scorpions and Poison to name but two). On Let It Ride, with his new band, Dark Horse, he claims to have gone country by accident, but you can see the tongue in his cheek from here. His band includes guitar and bass men respectively, Steve Ohe and Jason Bonnell, plus some friends who’ve worked extensively with Keith Urban and Brad Paisley, two artists who have become giants of popular music by expertly merging rock, pop and country into a discrete, identifiable sub genre with a wide demographic appeal.

There are plenty of well worn country tropes trailing through Let It Ride – it’s full of dirt roads and blue collar sentiments – and Laine uses that sense of familiarity to draw us in, then hooks us with his songs, his music and his emotion. In among all the first love/first band Lynyrd Skynyrd/Bryan Adams’ storytelling on ‘In The Country’ and ‘Nowhere Fast’, Laine sounds like a jubilant emigrant who’s not only stumbled on Dorothy’s eternal truth, but found the ruby slippers too. And on ‘Better Days’ and ‘The One I Waited For’, he drives a big old AOR truck down those country roads. The ghosts of Bon Jovi and Desmond Child are in the back, stompin feet, pickin’ banjos and playin fiddles on two songs that would have illuminated their unconvincing, prophetically titled Lost Highway album like Chinese fireworks on the darkest night of the year.

Elsewhere, the balladic ‘Goodbye’ – a whispered prayer of lover’s wisdom – hints at Melodic Country Rock greatness, and another pair, ‘Strong’ and ‘What She Meant’, both based on tight little hooks, satisfyingly recall Poco, the Desert Rose Band and especially the Eagles… you can almost sense the smell of colitas rising up through the air.

The public’s voracious appetite for contemporary country music may well be sated by the zillion albums that exit the Nashville conveyor belt annually. But 99% is flat-pack, self assembly stuff, constructed from identical DNA. It’s tough to be original within such narrow parameters and Laine reveals himself to be a writer rooted in tradition, but Let It Ride amply demonstrates that he refuses to be tamed by it, picking up on the classic elements of rock, country, and mainstream pop, then moulding and shaping them in his own likeness. One of the year’s better albums, no question.

Dark Horse – Let It Ride8 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. The One I Waited For
  2. Wouldn’t Have Missed It For The World
  3. In The Country
  4. Goodbye
  5. Heaven Tonight
  6. Nowhere Fast
  7. Strong
  8. Better Days
  9. What She Meant To me
  10. Let It Ride



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