Michael Ray: ‘Dive Bars & Broken Hearts’ – EP Review

Michael Ray releases new EP, Dive Bars & Broken Hearts, out now, June 23rd, on all streaming platforms. Listen to the brand new EP below.

Michael Ray takes us on a soul-stirring journey with his new EP, Dive Bars and Broken Hearts. This highly anticipated project captures the raw emotions of heartache and healing, all while celebrating the power of love and resilience. With his signature blend of heartfelt lyrics and mesmerizing deep, southern twang, Ray takes us through six separate stories with one overarching theme—recovery.

This record takes us through the emotions and timeline of someone falling in love, going through a breakup, and coming to terms with himself and his life. The opening and title track is the story of how the two met and admitting they aren’t perfect for each other, but go together like “Dive Bars and Broken Hearts”—the temporary masking of a bigger void in one’s life. 

“We’ll dance on forever to that broken record // Girl, we go together like dive bars and broken hearts // Baby, love me slow, sunrise waking up a long night // Misery and gin, we go like dive bars and broken hearts

In “Hate This Town,” the singer and his now ex recently ended their relationship, and he is exposing all the spots in town she tainted, so much so, he’s considering leaving altogether. The narrative is similar to the one in Dustin Lynch’s hit “Momma’s House”—just less violent. He mentions the drinks at the bar where they met are now more bitter than sweet, and, our favorite lyric, her “goodbye painted every wall on Main Street and the backroads got paved with her memory.”

Track 5, “Spirits and Demons,” is the most vulnerable tale on the project and features fellow country singer Meghan Patrick. Both parties are reflecting on the breakup, coming to the sad realization that drinking (spirits) won’t scare off the negative thoughts (demons) running through their minds. The male mentions the desire to blur out the “ring on the dresser,” which seems all too familiar to Ray’s real life. 

“Get Her Back” was the first song Ray released to the public. The title makes the listener think that the singer misses his ex and wants to win her over and rekindle the relationship, but the lyrics suggest otherwise. The music video portrays a crime scene and features Ray in custody, explaining to officers that he wants to “get her back,” not in the romantic sense, but in a vengeful fashion. He quotes her sinister acts and sneaky lies that he believes would do him justice. He credits the way he was raised for not following through with his menacing thoughts. Although this crosses the pop-country line, there is a fair amount of steel guitar that fuses nicely with the rest of the production. In addition, the woman starring in the video alongside Ray resembles a certain country star. 

Ray released “Workin’ On It” about a month later. Produced by Michael Knox, it is definitely the most “country” song on the record with steel, banjo, and fiddle all over the track. This song is a self-assessment of the singer, acknowledging that his truck and his golf game are not the only things that need fixing. In the second verse, he confesses that some of the complaints his ex had about him were true and he is indeed “not the man he wants to be yet.” The video is a continuation of the “Get Her Back” video, showing Ray walking out of the Sheriff’s office and hopping in his truck, innocent of the crime. This is one of Ray’s favorite songs on the record.  

“If there’s a song on the Dive Bars & Broken Hearts EP that’s me, it’s probably #WorkinOnIt,” Ray posted on social media. “It’s the idea that old cars need pieces, there’s always a project to do, but maybe the biggest project of all is… me. And that’s great. Knowing you’re always gonna try to be better, but also finding the fun in that… Isn’t that what life is all about?”

This collection of tunes is incredibly unique as listeners get to hear what unfolds from each song prior. It feels like, musically, Michael Ray has been out of the spotlight for some time now, with his latest release, Higher Education, dropping in the summer of 2021. However, with this record, he is sure to catch the eyes and ears of a wide variety of, not just country fans everywhere, but anyone who loves a good comeback story. 

Dive Bars & Broken Hearts Track List
  1. Dive Bars & Broken Hearts
  2. Don’t Give a Truck
  3. Hate This Town
  4. Get Her Back
  5. Spirits and Demons (with Meghan Patrick)
  6. Workin’ on It

Michael Ray shares his latest EP, ‘Dive Bars & Broken Hearts,’ out now.

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Dive Bars & Broken Hearts is now available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music here on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.