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The Midway State

Met a Man on Top of a Hill

(Interscope; US: 19 Jun 2007; UK: Available as import)

Roots-oriented singer-songwriter Blake Rainey has been known in smaller circles around Georgia, but hopefully this record makes him break out into bigger circles. The songwriting is quite good from the opening, “Matter of Heart”, as he guides the song along with some simple but solid picking of his acoustic guitar. He also hits his stride with the sweet “I Sang Holy” that brings to mind Thad Cockrell’s work with Caitlin Cary. This is especially true of the wistful, waltz-like “The Dangerous Winter” as backing vocalist Robin Najar steals the show. The mood and tempo doesn’t stray from what works, with “The Innocent Ghost of Marie” being another warm, soothing bit of folksy singer-songwriter craftsmanship. No real highlights here, as the album is too damn consistent for any sort of separation or track comparison. The second half kicks off with “99 Beers”, which has a slight rambling feel, while “All My Fears” is the record’s first Nebraska-esque moment. Closing the proceedings it the gorgeous title track and it’s the replay button… again and again and…


Originally from Cape Breton, MacNeil is currently writing for the Toronto Sun as well as other publications, including All Music Guide,,, Country Standard Time, Skope Magazine, Chart Magazine, Glide, Ft. Myers Magazine and Celtic Heritage. A graduate of the University of King's College, MacNeil currently resides in Toronto. He has interviewed hundreds of acts ranging from Metallica and AC/DC to Daniel Lanois and Smokey Robinson. MacNeil (modestly referred to as King J to friends), a diehard Philadelphia Flyers fan, has seen the Rolling Stones in a club setting, thereby knowing he will rest in peace at some point down the road. Oh, and he writes for

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