Nashville — it’s a pilgrimage site for musicians in all genres, especially those in Americana, folk, and country. The Bad Hats are no exception; they moved here in 2017 with the stated goal of redefining genres through their contemporary folk sound, and with the release of their most recent three-song EP This Time It’s Different, they’ve blended sounds to create one that’s all their own.
This Time It’s Different opens with “Strong Enough,” a track that falls somewhere between a ballad and an Americana jam. Like the other tracks on this EP, the song features an impressive arrangement of strings and horns, and Jenkins’ robust vocals carry the track.
The second track, “Clockwork,” keeps things upbeat, and the instrumentation really stands out. Not only does Ian Carnell’s mandolin drive the track, but the horn performance also delivers a sense of urgency. Again, “Clockwork” is a prime demonstration of The Bad Hats’ ability to fuse multiple genres into an exciting track that just works.
The EP slows down for the final song, “The Deal.” It wraps the EP well as Jenkins sings about his pride and ego. The track has a heavy southern rock influence; it’s a slow burn that builds and culminates in a beautiful release.
Perhaps the most welcoming element of the band's music is the lyrical content — not only is it delivered powerfully by frontman Benny Jenkins, but it focuses on personal struggles and doubts. Listeners won’t find a love song on this EP; instead, they’ll find a map through self-doubt, pride, and discovery.
This Time It’s Different is an exciting EP with variety. In an age where singles rule the streaming world, The Bad Hats have put out an EP that can hold an audience from start to finish. Perhaps that’s its greatest accomplishment.