"Midnight Special" by Uncle Kracker

There is absolutely no sound reason that Uncle Kracker, a former rapper and DJ in Kid Rock’s Twisted Brown Trucker Band, should find success in country music. Yet here he is, charting Top 10 singles (“Smile”) and palling around with megastars like Kenny Chesney.

His latest album, Midnight Special, seeks to have him ingrained further in the genre, despite no hint of country instrumentation. Instead, pressing play on Midnight Special—his first album on Americana-bluegrass label Sugar Hill Records—is like tuning in to 1970s AM radio, full of sunny melodies and smooth grooves.

“Blue Skies” plays like a sequel to Kracker’s feel-good hit remake of Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away.” First single “Nobody’s Sad on a Saturday Night” would be right at home in a beer commercial. And if a Hollywood suit is producing a cross-country buddy film, he’d be wise to snap up the bouncy “In Between Disasters” for the soundtrack right quick.

The standout, however, is “Who We Are,” Kracker’s piano-heavy tribute to the drinking class that calls to mind no less than Jackson Browne’s road-crew anthem “The Load-Out.” 

Kracker may not be singing country songs about trucks and sweet tea, but his lyrics are often winningly wry. Just try not cracking a smile when the Michigan prince snaps out the line brown bag my diamond, take my lobster to go in Midnight Special’s “Nuthin’ Changes.”

Living large has never sounded so funny. 

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