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Album Review: Old Dominion’s Self-Titled Album

The record maintains their inspiring disposition while exploring deeper emotions.

Written by Cillea Houghton
Album Review: Old Dominion’s Self-Titled Album
Old Dominion; Photo credit: John Balsom

Old Dominion continues to channel clever lyrics, modern production and positivity into their new self-titled album. Across 12 tracks, the CMA Award winning band of Matthew Ramsey, Brad Tursi, Trevor Rosen, Geoff Sprung and Whit Sellers maintains their inspiring disposition while exploring deeper emotions.

The group puts an uplifting foot forward with the encouraging chart-topper “Make it Sweet” that opens their third studio project, leading into “Smooth Sailing,” a song that finds a silver lining in the midst of life’s obstacles as they optimistically sing, “come hell or high water/the sun’s gonna shine/might not be tomorrow/but I know I’m gonna find smooth sailing.” They share a similar sense of reflection on “One Man Band,” expressing a desire to no longer walk through life alone, longing to find someone to share the precious memories with.

Old Dominion (Geoff Sprung, Whit Sellers, Matthew Ramsey, Brad Tursi, Trevor Rosen); Photo Credit Mason Allen
Old Dominion (Geoff Sprung, Whit Sellers, Matthew Ramsey, Brad Tursi, Trevor Rosen); Photo Credit: Mason Allen

Old Dominion begins to take on a more melancholy tone with “My Heart is a Bar,” the narrator coming to the revelation that he often feels taken advantage of in relationships, comparing his heart to a lonely bar where dwellers go to wash their woes away. “Well I’ve come to the conclusion/that true love is an illusion/you’re being used/or you’re using someone else,” Ramsey sings honestly.  The five-member troupe continues to weave sorrow into creative lyricism on “Hear You Now,” injecting vulnerability into the main character who realizes that a past love’s prediction that he’ll end up alone should he not change his ways has come to fruition. They convey this sense of remorse through lyrics that portray the sound of pouring rain filling the silence, while the echo of “goodbye” rattles in his mind like a midnight train, finally hearing her words pierce “clear and loud” through the empty loneliness.

They follow this by stepping outside of their sonic realm with “I’ll Roll” that finds them whisking off on a journey around the world with a gypsy woman over a swampy, yet mellow melody. They connect to a similar soul on one of the album’s best numbers, “Paint the Grass Green.” Letting imaginative lyrics soar, the singers use vivid imagery to paint a picture of a woman who longs to venture beyond her comfort zone, the lyrics calling to mind the iconic scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy steps into a world of color for the first time after living in black and white. “If you think the world looks better on that side of the fence/I’ll paint the grass green/like a Technicolor dream/if our love is fading babe/I’ll brighten up the sea/I’ll paint the grass green,” Ramsey sings over a shimmering pop-style melody.

The album ends on a truly humble note with “Some People Do.” The quintet lets poignancy take center stage with a lead character who takes responsibility for the pain he’s caused in the past, conveying a sincere desire to rectify his mistakes. Between Ramsey’s plaintive delivery and his bandmates’ gentle harmonies, it’s one of their most personal songs yet, particularly through such introspection as “some people quit drinking too much/and some people quit lying/some people decide to grow up/but it’s never good timing/most wouldn’t forgive/what I put you through/but I’m here tonight/hoping some people do,” the haunting marriage of piano and cello driving home the emotion of the words, making for an intimate and moving way to close the album.

Throughout the self-titled project, Old Dominion show that they’re diving beneath the surface to a more reflective place, relying as much on thought-provoking subjects matters as clever lyrics to tell their story – a combination that draws fans to their distinct sound and bright spirit.