Review – The Black Lillies’ “Midnight Stranger”

The Black Lillies are a band that haven’t been afraid to try new things and incorporate new sounds into their music. Their music has always been a blend of various genres: country, rock, blues, etc. The Black Lillies last released a new album in 2015, Hard To Please, which I found to be a fun and interesting listen. After nearly three years the group is back with the lead single “Midnight Stranger” off their new upcoming album Stranger To Me. The country rock sound is immediately infectious, but the lyrics don’t appear to be much upon the first listens. In fact one might think they’re not much different from what you hear in pop country based on the chorus. But then you read that the lyrics are inspired by the style of Steely Dan and the lyrics become infinitely more interesting.

For those not familiar with Steely Dan, their songwriting was often cryptic and veiled in meaning. It essentially takes multiple listens to put all of the pieces of the puzzle that are the lyrics together to find what the song is about. “Midnight Stranger” is about a guy who regularly hooks up at a bar with women, having no intention to move beyond some quick and meaningless sex. Lyrics like “Dirty dancer, you’re the answer, never fancy, always free” and “love and leave ’em, so easily” allude to the short-term nature of the relationships. The group even has another hallmark of Steely Dan’s songwriting with the mentions of a specific type of alcoholic drink. It’s a surprising throwback to a style of songwriting that isn’t common that they pull off quite well. Combined with their always great production, it’s a great lead single and I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of the album.

Grade: 8/10

Songwriters: Cruz Contreras, Bowman Townsend, Sam Quinn, Dustin Schaefer & Chyna Brackeen