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John Prine signee Arlo McKinley can’t escape Ohio on “Die Midwestern”

The late John Prine was by all accounts an incredibly kind-hearted man, but he was not easily impressed. So his decision to sign Arlo McKinley, an Ohio-born 40-year-old singer-songwriter still yet to release his debut album, to his own Oh Boy Records earlier this year is a sign of just how striking McKinley's songs can be.

At 40, Arlo McKinley Finds a Champion in John Prine’s Oh Boy Records

Last year, singer-songwriter Arlo McKinley played a set at the intimate Nashville venue the High Watt. A couple of very important things happened that evening. For one, the Cincinnati-based performer landed his current booking agent out of it. Secondly, among those in attendance was Jody Whelan, Director of Operations for Oh Boy Records, whom McKinley had gotten to know after playing an AmericanaFest event for the label a year earlier. 

Arlo McKinley releases 'Die Midwestern,' a must-hear album from John Prine's Oh Boy Records

On the 10-track "Die Midwestern," out now via Nashville independent label Oh Boy Records, McKinley sings about a bittersweet way of living through songs of chemical dependency, untamed restlessness and unspoken heartache — experiences in the rust belt that defined him beyond any geographic boundary. 

The Boot: 2021 Artist To Watch

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Arlo McKinley's 2020 LP 'Die Midwestern' is the kind of striking lyrics and meticulous arrangements that should appeal to Jason Isbell fans."

REVIEW: Arlo McKinley’s “Die Midwestern” Is Crushing

Good songwriters know good songwriters. John Prine, upon hearing Arlo McKinley’s “Bag of Pills” for the first time, remarked, “That’s a good song” (Mr. Prine was not one to waste words). McKinley signed with Prine’s Oh Boy label this past March, and his solo debut is the first release following Mr. Prine’s passing. Even as that’s a sad coincidence, Die Midwestern continues a legacy of great songwriting.

Arlo McKinley Debuts New Music Video For Powerful “She’s Always Around”

“I wanted to work with Hope in the Hills in some way since Healing Appalachia had to be canceled this year due to Covid. I’ve seen first hand what that organization does for those in need of help with addiction. I thought that having an option to raise some money for them with the release of this video and this song in particular made sense.” - Arlo