Gary Burk III is on a mission to save true country from the evil forces that would see it butchered and sold off to the pop music market, and in his new single “Two Lane Airplane,” he issues a declaration of war through a romantic ballad with just enough swing to get you swaying. While I wouldn’t call it hook-dependent, “Two Lane Airplane” boasts a killer harmony in its chorus that is almost guaranteed to get stuck in your head after even a cursory listening session. It’s red, white and blue melodies aren’t as common as they once were in country – sad as it is to admit, they’re somewhat of a rarity these days.
The guitars in this track are loud and proud when they’re given the floor, but next to the textured piano parts, I don’t think they’re quite as important to the construction of the trademark harmony here. Rather than focusing everything on his lyrical delivery, as most of his competitors in mainstream country music would have done, Burk is spreading out the catharsis here and allowing for the instrumentation to serve as the cornerstone of the big thrills and chills (which is another reason to believe in his eminence this summer).
There’s an amazingly tuneful element to the light reverb on the percussion here that makes it feel even more like a live session than it does something recorded on multitrack inside the confines of a professional studio. It’s interesting how a little goes such a long way when developing the kind of country tone that Burk has been since getting into the headlines with 2017’s “Crashed,” and to a large degree, he’s setting the kind of example that this new generation of players is really in need of following now that the hybridity of alternative country is taking shape on the FM dial.
Though he’s shown us plenty of chops with the microphone in his hand prior to the release of this latest single, I really think that Gary Burk III’s vocal is at the most unguarded state we’ve ever heard it before in “Two Lane Airplane.” His heart is on his sleeve, and even though the backing band is putting some extra mustard on this dog by the time we wrap around the chorus, there isn’t a solitary instance of the main focus in the music drifting away from where Burk wants it to be.
Indie country is exploding like nobody’s business this summer, and if you look at the big picture as I have, artists like Gary Burk III are the number one reason why. Burk is playing for the sake of an entire culture here, and while he comes from the north side of the Mason-Dixon Line, he’s putting together the most in-depth and emotive country sound of anyone in his scene with the release of this track. I have a good feeling about what’s awaiting him on the horizon, and if you haven’t already, I’d give “Two Lane Airplane” a close listen this month.
by Bethany Page