Every good songwriter must be honest with themselves — or be a master of complete self-deception. Whether Frankie Lee writes his world-weary alt-country songs because he knows how to sing 'em, or the other way around, he's found a calling. On Middle West, Lee fills his mouth with the perfect words to fill out portraits of sorrow, loneliness, blurry memories, and on "Country," the country. "City life just brings me down, all I do is drive around," he argues, with an ache that is palpable for anyone who's felt their life dripping out of them while waiting for an I-94 ramp to start moving. On "East Side Blues," he wrestles with the distances we create for ourselves or have created for us. Lee's songs are about almost nothing. And yet, at the same time, they're also about almost everything.