Cross Canadian Ragweed
Reviewed by Christopher Gray, Fri., April 9, 2004
Cross Canadian RagweedSoul Gravy (Universal South) Sorry, Wayne: The most popular band from Oklahoma isn't the Flaming Lips. It may just be these four Stillwater natives who've caused such a stir south of the Red River that they're one of the cornerstones of so-called Texas Music. It takes a lot for Texans to adopt Okies as their own, but major-label debut Soul Gravy doesn't make near as good a case for all the Lone Star love as '02's Live From Billy Bob's Texas. Instead, it settles for recycling hoary lyrical themes of life on the road and falling out of love, albeit with more darkness and cynicism than mainstream country-radio listeners are used to. "Sick and Tired," a duet with Lee Ann Womack practically guaranteed to show up as a single, is damn near existentialist in its exhausted ennui. A bit of that darkness seeps over into the seething arrangements of "Lonely Girl" and "Leave Me Alone," but otherwise the performances are tepid and uninspired. (Or is that sick and tired?) There are bright spots: "Hammer Down" is a surly portrait of an eloping couple that grinds the gears Drive-by Trucker-style, and Ray Wylie Hubbard's "Wanna Rock & Roll" hints at the live dynamo the quartet can be (readily demonstrated on a full-length concert from College Station on the album's limited edition bonus DVD). But that's the problem with the audio portion of Soul Gravy, it only hints. Even a hidden cover of Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold" is too little, too late.