Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Jan. 27, 2006
Auto-Body ExperienceOn their sophomore effort, the Boxcar Preachers' brand of old-time bluegrass music is played judiciously and with enthusiasm. Unfortunately, there are aspects of the local ensemble's methodology that seem forced, at times clichéd, which while engaging live are simply disagreeable on album. They claim kinship with the likes of the Gourds and Split Lip Rayfield, two groups that possess the talent to go to extremes and make it at the very least amusing. When the Boxcar Preachers go over the top, as they rattle on "Ain't No Grave Gonna Keep My Body Down," it comes across as a cheap imitation of Mojo Nixon. Attempting overdone covers by Johnny Cash ("Folsom Prison Blues") and the Louvin Brothers ("Atomic Power") are risky unless you bring something new to them, and this quintet isn't up to the task, performing each in a straightforward and undistinguished manner. Originals like the speed-grass/gospel "Model T" and country rocker "Earthquaker" show vocalist and guitarist Bruce Gardener's capacity for composing occasionally engaging rave-ups. All told, however, this Auto-Body Experience is a forced inspection.