Song Review: Midland – “Mr. Lonely”

The short version: “Mr. Lonely” is essentially “Make A Little” part two, but is anyone really complaining about that?

  • Writers: Mark Wystrach, Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne
  • Rating: 7/10

The long version: As we wrap up debates surrounding Maren Morris and Lil Nas X, we’re not going to open that old debate with Midland now, are we?

At any rate, Midland have proven by now they’re going to be here at least a little while longer. Through their three singles thus far, the band has essentially revived the better side of the ’90s. Now, hot on the heels of their debut album, the band has decided to stick to their guns on “Mr. Lonely.”

Of course, it’s not like anyone who was a fan of said debut album will complain, this critic included. In a nutshell, “Mr. Lonely” feels a lot like their previous single, “Make A Little” – an uptempo, energetic honky tonk number meant to get people out on the dance floor. It’s hard not to notice the similar chord progressions, but “Mr. Lonely” is an overall even better song.

On some level, “Mr. Lonely” should make my critical cap short-circuit. Lyrically, this is essentially the title character’s advertisement to the world that he’s here at this establishment if any woman is need of someone. It would come across as sleazy if not for the framing, and ultimately, Mr. Lonely isn’t out for anything other than a good time. He means no harm and is relegated to the background rather than engages as an activist in any kind of activity.

In other words, it’s not meant to be taken that seriously.

Perhaps what elevates “Mr. Lonely” even more than “Make A Little” is its punchier instrumentation and production. The louder drums on this track give it more of an “oomph,” and the jovial atmosphere complete with barroom piano and a nice steel guitar solo give this track all the energy it needs.

This isn’t the kind of song where lead singer Mark Wystrach’s vocals are tested to any considerable limits, but he does exactly what he needs to do – sell the role of the well-meaning Mr. Lonely simply looking for a good time.

“Mr. Lonely” also deserves points for turning age-old phrases into quirky one-liners. The band puts a different meaning on “long live the blues,” and the fact that he’s got “the number that you know by broken heart” also showcases a nice extra level of detail.

Is “Mr. Lonely” going to compete for any song of the year distinctions? No, but it both succeeds in exactly what it goes for and manages to be better than it has any right to be. Again, in the wrong hands, this track might not come across as well, but in Midland’s hands, this is a welcome foot-stomping honky tonk number. Between new releases from Blake Shelton, George Strait and Midland, at least some artists still care about country music.

(Strong 7/10)

(Editor’s note – I’m not happy about putting a music video here, but it seems to be the only way to hear the official audio on YouTube)

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