Album Review: Dillon Carmichael - “Hell On An Angel”

The nephew of Eddie and John Michael Montgomery showcases the same propensity towards classic country and southern rock sounds on his Riser House Records Debut.

“Natural Disaster,” the six minute-plus opening song for Hell On An Angel, is a hammond-laced, brooding track in the fine tradition of Hank Jr and Jamey Johnson and immediately sets the tone for what’s to come over the following nine tracks on Dillon Carmichael’s debut album. A fine singer with country bloodlines to match, Dillon Carmichael teamed with Dave Cobb to create the ambiance which backs up Hell on an Angel’s 10 tracks. The tracks show a reverence for 80s and 90s country with slight nods to country rock and talking about life, love and everything in between.

“It’s Simple” tells the story of the common, everyday American town and life while “Country Women,” a Jon Pardi co-write, is a rollicking, steel guitar laced tune which feels like a long-lost Mark Chestnutt song and that’s high praise in this writer’s book. The single “Dancin’ Away With My Heart” allows Carmichael’s baritone vocal to shine and while it may be a hard sell on modern country radio playlists, it does a nice job of blending modern country with the classic, steel guitar roots and is wrapped up in a sweetly romantic love song. Get out your cowboy boots to go two step with “Hard On A Hangover,” a classic country story song about a man who has played loose with the bottle and his marriage a little too much.

If there is one complaint about Hell On An Angel it’s perhaps that there are a few too many mid-tempo or ballads here but that’s really OK by me as the album showcases an artist who really does know who he is and where his strengths lie. Still quite young, Dillon Carmichael is just getting going and in a time when some places are looking for country music saviors, this album proves that a blue blooded American Country traditionalist is alive and well and ready to take up that battle.