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Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears

Scandalous (Lost Highway)

Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., March 18, 2011

SXSW Records

Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears

Scandalous (Lost Highway)

The odds against Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears making lightning strike twice were phenomenal. After all, 2009's hugely popular Lost Highway debut, Tell 'Em What Your Name Is!, sucker punched anyone in earshot, leaving blues-rock welts and a big, purple R&B bruise. Hurts so good. Scandalous proves the local soul man no one-hit wonder, punching and kicking it the old-school way. Lewis carves out roots by the fistful ("Booty City," "She's So Scandalous"), stacking them with fine horn- and bass-driven rockers ("Livin' in the Jungle," "Black Snake"), and topping it off with a gem of a Stonesy-influenced cover in "Since I Met You Baby." "You Been Lyin'" lays down the bottom with Dallas gospel discoveries the Relatives, contrasting the hilariously raunchy "Mustang Ranch," while "Messin'" is Lewis channeling Robert Johnson the right way. Getting sounds this authentic – without being slavish – becomes a bottom line in these genre pools, but once again Spoon's Jim Eno pulls a rabbit out of the proverbial hat. Scandalous doesn't venture far from its home turf, but that's because Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears' brand of Southern soul is a breath of nightclub air just how you need it. (Fri., 8:05pm, ACL Live at the Moody Theater)

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