Stickpony Smiling Into Nowhere

Texas Platters

Stickpony

Smiling Into Nowhere

"Year after year they tell you you can never go home," and yet each day is "another step closer to where you're from." That's the dilemma Stickpony confronts on its debut Smiling Into Nowhere, 11 stomps, shuffles, and waltzes that should be required last-call listening for anyone who thinks the safest place to hide is the bottom of a glass. Ironically, Nowhere is stocked with great drinking music. Drawing liberally from Green River, Burrito Deluxe, The Joshua Tree, Green, and No Depression, Stickpony's literate, melodic twang manifests itself in songs that cry out for a shot and a beer even as the stories chronicle what a dead-end road that is. There's the burned-out "Small Town Hero," a vagabond writing his "Last Letter Home" who watches his life "Stall Out" while he perfects his neon tan. It's "a train wreck that never seems to end" all right. A frisky foray into the Meat Puppets' metaphysical bluegrass ("Climbing") is a momentary diversion before our hero returns to wonder if things could "Hurt Any Less." The romping "Leviticus" details how such despondency is passed between generations, "88" is all about walking into walls and jumping through hoops just to "wake up the same old way," and "Worry" tells "where the line gets drawn" -- "when your face meets the gun." Is there any redemption? Hardly. "This is the way the world ends," says "Armageddon Song." "I hope that you and God can be friends." Here's hoping there's rehab in heaven.

***.5

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