Whiskey Myers have a penchant for delivering some of the most touching Texas country ballads alongside the most searing southern rock singles. 2014’s Early Morning Shakes features a bit of both, with lead single “Dogwood” living beautifully in the middle.
The five-piece from Palestine, Texas saw their star rise after the unexpected success of “Broken Window Serenade” — a love song for a lady of the night — on their 2011 sophomore effort Firewater. After years playing the Texas country circuit, the expectations for their follow-up record were big.
Thankfully, “Dogwood” delivers.
Anchored once again by Cody Cannon’s gravely vocals and thick East Texas drawl, the song is a story of young love that goes unrequited beyond high school. Musically, the band sticks to what they know: familiar chord structures layered with thick slide on distorted guitars and a steady train beat to keep the song moving along.
But where the tune really shines is in its presentation of the video. In it, a young man finds difficulty coping with the departure of his former love. Cannon laments, “Then graduation came/You was big city bound/I was going nowhere fast/So I just hung around.” The boy sends letters, which are received but never reciprocated.
Eventually an abusive and substance-abusing patriarch drags the boy to his depths, as Cannon sings, “So I took to drinking/I guess you wouldn’t recognize me/My soul’s torn and twisted/Like an old dogwood tree.” It’s a heavy theme, for sure, but it’s a very real one that touches a lot of folks — especially those who have seen it unfold firsthand.
With “Dogwood,” it’s clear that Whiskey Myers have a heart for telling the stories of the broken. At first listen, it may sound like a feel-good tune, with talks of creek beds and trucks. But it quickly takes a turn for the real.
In a time when many artists look for party anthems to introduce their new records, it’s refreshing to see the group sticking to what they know best. Check out the song and video above to see how it ends.