It’s been an interesting release strategy for Old Dominion this time around. After reinventing themselves with their Time, Tequila & Therapy recording sessions, the band followed a similar path for Memory Lane and released a four song sampler with the title track in January, 2023 and then released an eight track EP version of the album also titled Memory Lane in June before releasing the 18 track Memory Lane album here in October of 2023.
Four of this album’s first five tracks are new to this collection and also represent a transition to a new production partner with Ross Copperman joining the band in the seat previously occupied (and for the older tracks on this one, still occupied) by Shane McAnally. No doubt the band still is very close to McAnally but it never hurts to work with other talent when you’ve a decade and five albums deep into a major label recording career. The title track is the lone “old” song in this bunch and it remains a great song in the band’s grand tradition while there’s a familiarity to the new songs via the band’s classic songwriting and sing-song-y lyrical melodies, the production does feel a different vibe and nowhere is that more evident than their duet with Sony Music Nashville label mate Megan Moroney on “Can’t Break Up Now.” The song serves as the second single from this album and given her natural lyrical and vocal ability with internal wordplay, she’s a natural fit here (as is Blake Shelton on the fun album closing track “Ain’t Got A Worry”).
From the title of “Both Sides of the Bed” you’d think the song would be some happy love song. Instead, it’s a throwback lonesome, loathsome ballad about a man who can’t believe he wanted what he has: loneliness. Meanwhile, “Easy To Miss” is downright groovy in its melody and the lyrics are juxtaposed to that fun melody with a guy once again sad about his state of affairs. Opposite to that theme are songs like “Ain’t Got A Worry,” “Love Drunk And Happy” and “Hot Again.” Songs with melodies which Old Dominion is known for while also suggesting a deep bench from which to release singles to radio. “Ain’t Got A Worry” could be one such song since it appears here in two versions, a complete band version and as a duet with Blake Shelton. There’s a notable moment on this album where the band recorded an outside song not co-written by one of the members (Matthew Ramsey, Geoff Sprung, Whit Sellers, Brad Tursi & Trevor Rosen). Instead, longtime band collaborators Shane McAnally and Matt Jenkins penned the moody and philosophical “Some Horses.” It’s a melodic, harmonic masterpiece of a song and it’s easy to see why Old Dominion recorded it.
The melodic and philosophical vibe continues on “Beautiful Sky,” the kind of song that Old Dominion has recorded more and more of as their career has gone on but this one’s difference is the Eagles and Diamond Rio-like multi-part harmonies found in the chorus. It’s just brilliant just like the 18 track Memory Lane is. This is Old Dominion back doing what they do best. They make music that is easily accessible and easy to love while also finding moments within the album to expand their sound in the subtlest of ways, something the best of the best are constantly able to do.