The Upshot: Distaff folk/pop duo (with some notable musical and Hollywood DNA in the mix) serves up an album’s worth of great songs to back up all expectations.
BY JOHN B. MOORE
Let’s just get this out of the way up front. The folk/pop duo mmhmm is comprised of
Raelyn Nelson, Willie Nelson’s granddaughter, and Hannah Fairlight, an actress best known so far for a role in Pitch Perfect 3. And while those connections have certainly helped aim the spotlight on the band in an otherwise very crowded Nashville music scene, it’s also likely causing the duo to have to prove themselves to listeners more than the average new group. Thankfully, they have an album’s worth of great songs to back up all expectations.
Focusing in on a playful blend of pop country, heavy on acoustic guitars and ukuleles, Nelson and Fairlight mix in plenty of humor and undeniably catchy hooks, whittling out a new sub-genre in a scene awash in Bro-Country and don’t-crack-a-smile Americana. Songs like the bad day getting worse “Aw Hell” (premiered recently at BLURT) and the infectious “Up in Smoke (Don’t it Have to Wait)” are singalongs perfect for summer firepits.
There is also a fun throwback quality to the record, with Fairlight and Nelson talking each other directly throughout and a hidden track of sorts at the end of the record with a brief series of hard rock riffs. Another high point is mmhmm’s cover of REO Speedwagon’s “Take it on the Run.” Goofy, yes, but flawlessly executed.
The one big misstep here is the “Lookin’ Like a Tranny Blues,” a song that wouldn’t have drawn much attention a decade or two ago but seems wildly out of place on a record in 2018. The band has already issued and apology for the song and said they will not play it live and are looking for a way to remove it from the album.
That one obvious misstep aside, the duo delivers a fun quirky record tailor made for day drinking (leading into night drinking).
DOWNLOAD: “Aww Hell,” “Up in Smoke (Don’t it Have to Wait)” and “Take it on the Run”