In 2007, Tim McGraw said of Halfway to Hazard, “I [want] this kind of music to surround my music on the radio.” McGraw, who produced Halfway to Hazard’s self-titled debut album, never saw his dream realized. Both of Halfway to Hazard’s singles (“Daisy” and “Devil and the Cross”) barely made an impact on country radio, despite an opening slot on McGraw’s Live Your Voice tour and a nomination for Duo of the Year at the 2008 Academy of Music Awards. Their sophomore record Come On Time (2009) didn’t chart at all. The little-known duo disbanded shortly after Come On Time release due to family matters, but they recently announced plans to reunite in 2015. In honor of David Tolliver and Chad Warrix’s reunion, we’re taking another look at Halfway to Hazard—and damn, it is still good.
Halfway to Hazard is a country-rock album full of poetic lyrics and strong vocal harmonies. Take “Daisy,” the duo’s debut single. It tells the tale of Daisy, a young woman the protagonist meets as a child, falls in love with, marries, and eventually must say goodbye to after an untimely death during childbirth. The way the lyrics are transformed by context as they get repeated throughout the song is chilling and bittersweet. As songwriters, Halfway to Hazard can be incredibly sobering. The two so wistfully sing on “Die By My Own Hand,” “Don’t worry, honey / I understand why you went running from me / Guess I really should have seen it coming / I’ll always die by my own hand.”
While Tolliver and Warrix are amazing storytellers on their slower, sadder songs, they alternate these ballads with much tougher tracks full of gritty guitar riffs and a take-no-bull attitude. “Country ‘Til the Day We Die” tells you enough: “Call us hicks from the sticks / We don’t really give a shit.” It’s an early version of bro-country with a stronger backbone, and it works. The album opener, “Countrified,” was built to be sung in an amphitheater. Warrix pushes his voice to a near-scream on the chorus over rough-sounding guitar chords and punchy percussion. These rockier songs balance out the sweeter ones perfectly, and sometimes they combine for some melodrama, like on “I’m Tired” and “Burn It Down.”
Halfway to Hazard’s versatility is something to marvel at. We can’t wait to see what these guys will be up to in 2015. With a comeback in the works, maybe Tim McGraw will finally get to see his songs alongside Halfway to Hazard’s on radio charts.
Highlights: “Daisy,” “Cold,” “Die By My Own Hand,” “I’m Tired,” “Countrified”