The Stone City Stragglers – The Last Resort
Like smoking a good cigar, taking a Saturday morning walk or finding a ten-spot in your pocket, the Stone City Stragglers are one of life’s little pleasures. This sextet from Joliet, Illinois delivers simple country songs stripped of any of the glitz or schmaltz that is being churned out of “Gnashville.”
Their second album “The Last Resort” contains a dozen gems that mix traditional country heart, a hint of rock n’ roll sneer, folksy pickin’ and playin’ and killer harmony vocals. Yet make no mistake about it - shock full of tales of lost love, broken bonds and heartbreak - The Last Resort is a blues record.
In Drag Mama lead vocalist Brent James sings: I’m tired of hearing your noise/Put on your walking shoes/and leave my home/like you promised to/…you’re a drag mama.
Dean Man’s Curve is no Jan and Dean sing-along; it is sparse tale of despair. “You know the blues when ya got ‘em/deep down in your soul/one foot in the fire the other raking coal.”
Singing about a fractured relationship with your father is as common as beer cans around a bon-fire for Blink 182 and legions of other teen angst bands. But the Stragglers are no pseudo-punks and are able to offer an adult perspective. “Tell me mama, what do you see/am I the man you wanted me to be/or do you see too much of the father in me?”
The result is sure to be
one of the year’s
hidden Americana treasures.
Earl Musick – Privateer
Earl Musick has kicked around the Texas roots-music scene for more than two decades. Privateer showcases the variety of music styles that Musick undoubtedly was exposed to during those two decades as a session player.
Privateer features sparse production and 13 acoustic-based songs that take you at various points from San Antone, Santa Cruz and Fort Worth.
The first two tracks, the aforementioned San Antone and Hell Bent & Happy sound like Honky-Tonk Heroes era Waylon. Texas Moon swings, while Promise Bound has a bouncy blues-meets-country feel.
The strongest tune Bye I’m Gone, also has the most get up and go and would make for a perfect single if commercial country stations looked beyond the glitz and hype machines of Nashville.
All in all, Privateer shows enough promise to make one look forward to more Musick.