Arlo McKinley has spent the better part of the last five years winning fans on the road, bringing his classic country sensibility and affable onstage banter on tour with the likes of Tyler Childers and Jason Isbell. Well-known around his home of Cincinnati and just over the border in Kentucky, the songwriter also caught the attention of some pretty legendary Nashville ears: After seeing McKinley play a set at the High Watt, the late John Prine signed the forty-year-old to his independent record label, Oh Boy Records—the last such signing before Prine’s death in April.
McKinley’s forthcoming Oh Boy Records debut, Die Midwestern, reckons with heartache (“Gone for Good”), hard times (“Bag of Pills”), and weekends spent making trouble (“Suicidal Saturday Night”), and the album itself hails from historic Southern ground. It was recorded in Memphis at the Sam Phillips Recording Service with an all-star backing band of Memphis music mainstays, including keyboardist Rick Steff (Lucero) and vocalist Reba Russell (Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison).
Today, Garden & Gun is proud to premiere “Walking Shoes,” the album’s first single, a tune that builds from powerful a cappella vocals to a full, fiddle-laden chorus. “I wrote this song about moving forward…freeing yourself from bad relationships, making good out of bad things, giving and receiving forgiveness,” McKinley says. “It’s knowing there’s something better and taking the first steps on the journey to find it.”
Hear “Walking Shoes” below. Die Midwestern is set for release on August 14 and is available for pre-order here.