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Mack West

  • Michael McIntire
With the positive reception of its self-titled debut from 2009 and its unique sound marriage of Southwestern country, blues and rock, Cincinnati’s Mack West established its own sub-genre: Alt-western. The evocative sound immediately caught the ears of national television producers looking for the right music for their shows’ soundtracks.
Tracks from Mack West’s debut like Water’s Rising and Devil’s Hide surfaced on History Channel’s “American Pickers,” while Discovery Channel’s “Auction Kings” snatched up the ballad Diamond Rose and the instrumental track Vaquero was used in a promo spot for AMC’s “The Man with No Name Trilogy.”
When it came time to write the follow-up, “The Goodnight Trail,” vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Zach Mechlem knew he wanted to build on the successful foundation established while expanding the sound even further. The core of the band (drummer Greg Slone and bassist Will Campbell) returns for Mack West’s second full-length, creating a continuity that keeps the two records from sounding disparate. Mechlem’s songs once again feature Slone’s deceptively intricate and sophisticated drum parts and are held together by Campbell’s beautifully simple but rock-solid bass lines.
Lyrically, the subject matter stays true to themes requisite of the genre: love, loss, desperation and regret, all delivered in Mechlem's trademark, bass vocal styling. But helping to add a fresh perspective to “The Goodnight Trail” was the introduction of new members, guitarist (and album co-producer) Steve Wethington and violinist Annette Christianson, whose instrumentation and melodic offerings provide a buoyant counterbalance.
The latest additions to Mack West help make “The Goodnight Trail” a more accessible batch of songs — including August Night, Sinners and Angels and Soldier On — which add a new, pop-like feel to the proceedings. “The Goodnight Trail” is more than just a new release; it’s a triumphant next step in the evolution of the band.
As much as the first recording put Mack West on the map by integrating seamlessly with national television soundtracks in support, the catchy hooks and newfound, universal appeal evident on “The Goodnight Trail” should help catapult the band to national radio airplay in a new and fitting role as a featured artist.