Grit, Kitsch, and Whiskey
To most, Danny Worsnop’s voice is more recognizable than his name. The frontman for Asking Alexandria, an internationally famous metalcore band out of England, recently took a brief hiatus to pursue a hard rock side project and country-influenced solo album. The abrupt leap between otherwise disparate genres is bound to face skepticism, but for those curious and open-minded souls who appreciate a little bite in their blues or twang in their electric guitar, Worsnop’s The Long Road Home may prove pleasantly surprising.
With enough whiskey references to stock a liquor store shelf and tracks alternating between subterranean lows and raucous highs, The Long Road Home is an album that brims with internal conflict drawn from Worsnop’s own experience with musical success and the damage incurred along the way. The tracklist is split down the middle between heart-rending, profound displays of post-recovery honesty and songs so formulaic they come across as kitsch. “Prozac” kicks things off with bleary-eyed observations on addiction and rehabilitation. Worsnop’s voice aches with the weight of sincere emotion as he sings the line, “got crucified and came back to life.” He removes the heart from his sleeve for “Mexico,” an upbeat and simple ditty about trading in responsibilities for beer and beaches. It’s a foolproof, albeit bland, recipe that has been circulating on country radio stations for years.
When the jangly, saloon-style piano melody of “I Feel Like Shit” wraps up, the album takes one of several whiplash-inducing dives into sobered up retrospection. “I love you too much to let you love me,” Worsnop sings during “Anyone But Me,” imbuing each verse with more anguish than the last. The following track, “High” asks the question, “if home is where the heart is, what happens when the heart breaks?” “I Got Bones” offers a brief reprieve for the heartstrings in the form of a lust-driven rock ballad and electric guitar solo.
The Long Road Home is a mixed bag of vapid drinking anthems and raw, honest tracks that channel both blues and rock in near perfect harmony. Although an odd coupling, the contrast illustrates the duality at the core of Worsnop’s songwriting — hurting those he loves, acting against his own desires and drinking to cope with problems caused by drinking. With this in mind, songs like “Don’t Overdrink It” take on a darker, more ironic tone than the jaunty two-step melodies suggest. Alcohol is both Worsnop’s savior and his bane, his muse and his distraction. He may still be finding his footing in the world of country, but Worsnop has made a good first impression.