You hear the term “Next Big Thing” brought about with a lot of emerging acts but the talented Nashville based 6-piece King Calaway definitely are a band that are going places and moving quickly. They have already made their debut at the Grand Ole Opry where on a subsequent visit saw them joined on stage by multi Grammy Awarding winning member of both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry Ricky Skaggs. In addition to this they have already opened for Garth Brooks and shared the stage in Gibraltar with Take That plus they are set to join Rascal Flatts on their Farewell Tour along with successful debuts’s on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, James Corden’s The Late Late Show and The Kelly Clarkson Show so when you see that their first single ‘World For Two’ has over 5 million streams on Spotify alone, this is one case where a lot of hype is well and truly justified.
Robert Deaton who was one of the producers on their debut record and former head of BMG, Zach Katz had a vision of creating a highly talented, multi instrumental collective that have come to fruition through various introductions as King Calaway. Comprising of Deaton’s son Chris on drums who is the Nashville local hailing from Franklin in Tennessee, Minnesota born bass player Austin Luther, Caleb Miller from Ohio, Chad Michael Jervis originally from Delaware who is one of the bands three lead vocalists along with a pair of Brits: Simon Dumas from Gibraltar and Edinburgh born Jordan Harvey.
Their twitter bio says “manufactured boy band” in inverted comma’s which typically is not a stigma you would typically want attached and is a lighthearted take on what some people would view as negative. They three words strictly speaking are all accurate: they were put together by people within the industry, they are all male and the key thing that detracts away from the #ManufacturedBoyBand stereotype is that they primarily are a band! Although when you listen to the record there are times you think that you could quite easily hear songs on a Westlife or One Direction record the aspect as musicians is what is key about King Calaway and far removed from the “boy band” image.
There definitely is that commercial, media friendly pop aspect which we are familiar with in the UK with bands like Westlife, McFly and especially Lawson who UK country fans will probably be familiar with as the former band of one of the finest talents in the genre on this side of the pond: Andy Brown. There is also a certain fresh, emerging Nashville sound which is very evident to compliment this and both of these intertwine with an almost classic rock feel with very Goo Goo Dolls type recordings, where the way people have described them as a meeting of The Eagles and One Direction is actually a fair reflection and incorporating a wide spectrum of male performers and musicians. Their debut record and lead singles really do bring a unique sound of incorporating a traditional sound together with a more modern universal aspect which should transpire across the musical spectrum.
Their debut album ‘Rivers’ was released in the US back in October 2019 (which you can listen to HERE) but ahead of their first appearance at Country to Country Festival is getting an official UK release through BMG on Friday March 6th with new single ‘No Matter What’ available now. The album was produced by Robert Deacon and Ross Copperman who is also a part of a list of Nashville’s who’s who in terms of featured songwriters on this record which also features the likes of: Laura Veltz, Dave Barnes, Jordan Reynolds, Barry Dean, Jon Nite, Jimmy Robbins, Josh Osborne, Devin Dawson and fellow Country to Country debutante Mitchell Tenpenny.
‘Rivers’ is a very diverse collection on songs, as I have already eluded to there are cuts for some of the best of the best songwriters in Music City plus a terrific reworking of the 1970 Stephen Stills hit ‘Love The One You’re With’ giving a more upbeat interpretation than the original or even Luther Vandross’s Grammy nominated version in the mid nineties. On one hand you have quite a leaning towards a variety of ballads and harmony driven love songs covering the full range with mid tempo numbers like ‘More Than I Do’ and ‘Picture Of The Way You Are’, the go to power ballad ‘Missing You’, the simple elegant piano ballad ‘Did’ which closes the album, the instant hit lead single ‘World For Two’ which is the sing along that is really up there with some of the best tracks of recent times in country music and finally the late night slow dance vibes of ‘I Do’.
In addition to these, the fest of the album is filled with highly infectious melodies that bring in a lot of different musical aspects which highlight the dynamic of the group which will likely prove to be some of their more popular live tracks. ‘No Matter What’ which is the current single is the perfect introduction to the album and the band showcasing individual vocal prowess along with their harmonies with an instantly uplifting and catchy melody that is filled with really slick licks through the instrumentals really has the potential to be a monster hit! For me the title track is the stand out on this record and definitely the one most marketable for the UK, it has almost an EDM type feel combined with a rock song that has so much appeal in the melody and key changes which will likely particularly be a big hit for Coldplay fans! Let’s be honest surely that is everybody? The other track that really creates an impression is the insanely catchy ‘Obvious’ which will be a big sing along song and I love how funky the melody is.
The two most “country” sounding tracks are the duo of tracks in the middle of the album ‘Drivers Seat’ and ‘Grow Old’ which are both real clap along tracks that offer a really good indication of the modern standpoint of country music so are again sure to be UK fan favourites. I think they will be very popular at this years festival because they have a lot of good songs, people will definitely relate to them more with the European connections then as we saw first hand at last years showcase they are very talented musicians and very impressive live.
King Calaway return to Europe in March for C2C Country to Country where they will appear on the BBC Radio 2 Stage in the Indigo, Big Entrance Stage and the Town Square Stage over the weekend in London whilst also performing at the festival in Berlin. You can find all their upcoming tour news and keep up to date with the guys on their website and socials:
C2C Country To Country is Europe’s largest country music festival taking place in Berlin (6th, 7th & 8th March) and Amsterdam (7th & 8th March) before 3 nights at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, 3Arena in Dublin and the flagship event at London’s O2 Arena over the weekend of March 13th-15th. Full information on the festival HERE which includes information and ticket links for all venues.