The Austin Chronicle

Phases and Stages

Texas Platters

Reviewed by Jerry Renshaw, July 11, 2003, Music

Nathan Hamilton & No Deal

Live at John T. Floore Country Store (Tamale Pot)

Nathan Hamilton does working-class country rock. It's hard to say exactly what "working-class" even means anymore, as those traditional sort of class distinctions have become plenty blurred in recent decades, but Hamilton stays true to form. His songs have a populist bent and a sense of indignation that never sounds self-righteous or pretentious. Captured live at Floore's just outside of San Antonio, Hamilton & Co. sound like they mean it on every song. "Two Penny Vengeance" opens things up with a big bang as it unfolds its story of settling scores, an insistent Tele riff driving things ahead relentlessly. The themes of dusty, broken-down small towns ("Mercantile Store"), low-paying jobs ("Hard Getting By"), and dying marriages ("Bottle in the Bathroom") are tough to put a new spin on, but Hamilton makes them all come alive. It's country for those with dirt under their fingernails and rock for those with dust on their jeans, a brand of stuff that rings a lot truer than the cut-and-paste Texas posturings of Cory Morrow or Pat Green. Those whose tastes run toward blunt, sometimes-harsh storytelling and honest country rock would do well to seek out Hamilton & No Deal. They're the real deal.


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