Whiskey Myers released their debut album in 2008. After ten years of paying dues and working hard, the Palestine, Texas-based sextet got their big break. The combination of their killer self-titled album from 2019 and the boost they got from appearing on Yellowstone propelled them to national prominence. With Tornillo, they’re taking full advantage of their position.
The fellas in Whiskey Myers pushed the boundaries of their Southern rock sound on this album. Last year, Cody Cannon told Outsider that Tornillo would have WM’s sound at its heart, but they were bringing something new to the table. They added a horn section and an organ. Some tracks feature flashes of funk and soul music. The McCrary Sisters add tinges of soulful gospel to several tracks with their backing vocals.
These new additions blend seamlessly with Whiskey Myers’ signature brand of Southern Rock. So, it isn’t that they really changed their sound on this record. Instead, they broke down some walls and gave their sound room to grow and evolve. As a result, there’s more than enough of their core sound to keep longtime fans happy and enough new texture to keep it interesting.
Tornillo isn’t just packed with hard-driving rockers. Tracks like “Heavy on Me” “For the Kids” and “Heart of Stone” provide slower, softer moments in the tracklist. However, it seems that the boys in Whiskey Myers only slow down when they’re planning on cranking up the emotional weight.
Standout Tracks from Tornillo
Don’t get me wrong, Tornillo is full of good songs. If you’re into Whiskey Myers, you’re going to love this record. However, it was easy for me to pick favorites on this go-round. A few tracks just stood out like sore thumbs.
For the Kids
Cody Cannon has shown over the years that he can write a damn good sad song when he wants to. This is one of those and there’s a good chance that Whiskey Myers is going to punch you right in the chest with it. The song is about a young couple on the verge of a breakup. In it, Cannon pleads for her to stay for the kids.
The chorus opens with the lines, “If we could just stay together for the kids / And a few more years / They might not end up like we did,” and ends with Cannon declaring, “We don’t have to be happy.”
That’s going to lead to many tearful singalongs at future Whiskey Myers shows.
If you want to see the pinnacle of the sound that Whiskey Myers was going for on Tornillo, I think this is it. The song opens with a muddy blues line backed by horns. That blends seamlessly into the band’s signature Southern rock style. In the chorus, they pour on the funk. All the while, the McCrary Sisters are adding tinges of gospel. This whole album is a musical gumbo and “Bad Medicine” is the perfect bite.
Heart of Stone
I think of “Heart of Stone” as a counterpoint to “Wolf”. They’re both autobiographical songs from Cannon’s perspective and they show two sides of his personality. Where “Wolf” is swaggering, antagonistic, and braggadocious “Heart of Stone” is vulnerable. It’s a song about learning, growing as a person, aging, and self-doubt. At the same time, “Wolf” gives us a look at how Cannon sees himself on a professional level. This track, on the other hand, peels back the curtain to show us who he is as a man.
Additionally, I feel like a good portion of Whiskey Myers’ fanbase will feel the lyrics to this one deep in their bones.
Final Verdict on the New Whiskey Myers Album
Overall, Tornillo is a rock-solid album. I could see myself coming back to it over and over and adding a few tracks to my personal playlist. Whiskey Myers took a gamble with the new additions to their sound and it paid off. They came away with an album that has enough sonic and emotional variety to keep it feeling fresh for years to come.
You’re going to want to check this one out.