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“Hillbilly Legal” by Lan Law

Lan Law doesn’t strike me as a concept band – their new single “Hillbilly Legal” isn’t weighed down with a lot of theatrical bells and whistles, nor does it feel like a small puzzle piece of a much grander story still in the process of being told by the time the track concludes. However, even with all of that being the case, I would be lying if I said “Hillbilly Legal” didn’t sound like a piece of material dreamt up with the idea of presenting listeners with the band’s mission statement this April.

If there’s one thing this group is committed to – and which is made more than clear on this occasion – it’s blurring the line between Nashville pop and blue-collar country as much as possible with their hybrid harmonies. They pummel us with supple beats and glowing melodic ribbonry in this song as though they have little to no interest in quaking the floorboards with volume, but beneath the surface level cosmetics, we find a band in Lan Law that is as devoted to the decadence of an old fashioned country as they are the contemporary charms of a new era in modern pop music.  

I like that the hook in this song is ultra-efficient while the melodies are essentially as far away from a conservative framework as you can get before drifting into experimental realms within alternative country’s new wave revival movement. There’s a full-bodied feel to the bassline in the background, but it serves to merely warm the words rather than define their emotionality (which is something that, despite being common at one point in history, you aren’t likely to come by in the output of other bands this spring).

I would have liked a little more volume on the slide parts here if only to give us just a bit more of their textural presence, but I can understand why Lan Law would want to avoid the very idea of being called overindulgent in this most recent studio recording. The bass parts are already as bold as they can be in acting as a cushion to the lyrics, and although it echoes as a whisper, the vocal in “Hillbilly Legal” is hardly a shining example of outlaw country minimalism.  

Though I wasn’t very familiar with who Lan Law was before I got into their new single, I think theirs is a sound that everyone in Nashville and across the country should be keeping track of in the next few years. They’re not ready for the primetime yet, but the strength of their songwriting alone goes a long way toward justifying a new album before 2023 is over. It’s been a hot spring for a lot of different indie units around the American underground, but even amongst the melting pot of talent they’re coming up against right now, Lan Law has a couple of attributes standing out so much here that ignoring them is just about next to impossible. They’re on my radar, and if you’re a pop/country buff, they need to be on yours, too.  

Mindy McCall



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