Midnight Motel

Jack Ingram

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Midnight Motel Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Jack Ingram left the country mainstream after 2009's Big Dreams & High Hopes, an album that failed to deliver on either despite two singles that became hits. Despite "That's a Man" and "Barefoot and Crazy" cresting into the Country Top 20, the album sealed his fate in Nashville, so he wound up wandering the Americana back roads before resurfacing in 2016 with Midnight Motel on Rounder. The very title of Midnight Motel suggests a bleary pit stop, a place where you stay when you're waylaid from your planned path. That sensibility infuses Midnight Motel, a record that lingers upon the unplanned moments, moving slowly through a series of laments and fireside tales, including a spoken salute to the late Merle Haggard. This isn't a sentimental story: it's about a promoter who tried to run a game on Hag and Ingram. Such sly humor is a good indication of the sensibility behind Midnight Motel, a record whose heart lies in the tattered corners and slower numbers but also surfaces on ragged singalongs and the easy-rolling numbers that give the album a lift. Midnight Motel is an album that asserts Ingram's strengths as a songwriter -- nothing here has an eye on the charts but they're all accessible, waiting for the right bit of polish -- but the charm of the record is how he leaves loose ends hanging, suggesting that his story began long before this album and will continue long afterward.

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