Album Review: Jack Ingram - "Midnight Motel"

The Texan returns after seven years away with this Jon Randall-produced project released via Rounder Records. See what we think of the project here.

There’s a loose raw vibe to Jack Ingram’s latest project, Midnight Motel. The album, recorded mostly at that late hour, is a project near and dear to Ingram’s heart. After scoring a string of hits with Big Machine Records (Scoring the label’s first chart-topping hit with “Wherever You Are”), we find Jack Ingram on roots indie powerhouse Rounder Records for this project. With Midnight Motel, Jack took a turn back to the kind of songs which made him a household name in Texas — and beyond — in the first place.

The record’s opener, “Old Motel,” feels like a classic Jack Ingram single by the time the chorus kicks in — after feeling a bit Dylan-like vocally — and that’s a great thing. The first of two Lori McKenna co-written tunes, “It’s Always Gonna Rain,” is powerfully poetic song about never losing hope, even in the darkest of moments. “Blaine’s Ferris Wheel” is a Townes Van Zant-like story song about a real person — a bar owner — from Jack’s life while “What’s A Boy To Do” finds a mid tempo groove backing up Ingram’s reedy voice as he sings about the heartbreak of a man (or boy) who doesn’t know or understand the end of a relationship except that they sometimes end for no obvious reason.

“I’m Drinking Through It” is the second of the McKenna co-writes, this one with her pal Liz Rose along for the ride. This one, a song which if it came from Blake Shelton would be deemed about Miranda, is about a guy figuring out what to do after a relationship ends. The other song with ‘drinking’ in the title, “I Feel Like Drinking Tonight” is next and as the preview single from the song — a single in Texas — is a bit of self-written poetry from Jack Ingram as he deals with heartbreak and life’s rougher moments the way many do: with some adult libations.

While many moments on Midnight Motel are down moments, there’s a moment of optimism and happiness with “Can’t Get Any Better Than This,” a song which finds that through all despair that hope and optimism may be the way to go. And that’s what’s great about Midnight Motel, It may be a record which will not sniff mainstream radio airwaves but it does find Jack Ingram doing what he’s always done the best. That is to tell stories and not worry about what everyone else is doing.