Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Feb. 11, 2005
Wicked Twisted Road (Sugar Hill)
On their fifth release second for North Carolina indie Sugar Hill Reckless Kelly has penned its "Freebird." True, the leadoff title track is only three minutes and lands smoothly, as opposed to crash-landing a three-guitar pileup, but its road/world weary tone and Southern drawl would make both Ronnie Van Zandt and Steve Earle stand on the nearest bar and proclaim this Austin quintet's authenticity. "Dogtown" follows in similar fashion, Willy Braun's twang as rustic and restless as a night in stir, while "7 Nights in Eire," Celtic cobblestones et al., is the reel jug-lander. When fiddles, steel, and guitars hit the open road on straight-ahead honky-tonk rockers "Motel Cowboy Show" and "Sixgun," Wicked Twisted Road leaves only broken bottles and broken hearts in its path. Wicked Twisted Road: The Board Game, folded into the CD insert with a tiny red die in the CD spine, traces all such pitfalls, including the ultimate "Freebird" landmark: a "plane crash, game over" square. Producer and former Twangtrust helmsman Ray Kennedy makes sure there are no such fatalities on WTR, though he leaves a few Braunies undercooked ("A Lot to Ask," "These Tears") and the album's back-end ("Wretched Again," "Stick Around," "Broken Heart") less compelling than the front grill. Nevertheless, as the WTR board game attests, it's only two squares between "wrote hit song, go ahead four spaces" and "hung over, go back three spaces," and between "Wicked Twisted Road" and its disc-end reprise, these Reckless Austin boys are mostly flying on all cylinders.