Artist: Mike Riley
Song: “Drug Dealers”
Genre: Singer-Songwriter, Folk
Songs about struggling towns and hard-pressed people are often spun as Americana, the subject of folk songs from non-name midwest towns that seem to fall off the map. With “Drug Dealers”, the first single from his upcoming EP, Canadian singer-songwriter Mike Riley proves that the U.S. holds no monopoly on music inspired by poverty and hopelessness.
Over a simple acoustic melody, fleshed out with light piano and drums, Riley spins a lament in the vein of Springsteen’s best solo work. Lines like “Even the drug dealers here will tell you times are tough”, hold an inherent humor in the concept but are underpinned by the stark sadness of the reality behind them. Riley’s somber, plaintive vocals carry a steady gravitas as he recounts small stories that reflect the truth of survival in a small town; selling a wedding ring, a teen turning 18 and escaping to Toronto in hopes of finding something better.
Take a listen to this beautiful track in our Check This 2019 Playlist: