San Saba County, the Weary Boys, the Mother Truckers, 10 City Run, the Derailers, Justin Trevino, and Brennen Leigh
Reviewed by Christopher Gray, Fri., June 9, 2006
"The days burn like cigarettes," sings San Saba County on second disc It's Not the Fall That Hurts, but they're not talking about the weather. The Arkansas travelers, guilt-racked Catholics, and impatient brides-to-be of these rural goth missives shoulder enough grief to make a feller pine for simpler days back in the big city, which they do on "Nothin' Like the Dallas Homesick Blues." The Weary Boys, meanwhile, head down to the bayou of fifth LP Jumpin' Jolie (Weary Records), humidified ballads better suited to a lazy afternoon underneath a live oak than a feverish fais do-do, save the rug-cutting title track and "Baby's Got a Hold on Me." For an encore, take a twirl to newcomers the Mother Truckers' Broke, Not Broken (Bosco), which starts strong with robust roots-rocker "No Mercy" and sidelong shuffle "Nothing There," coasts through the middle, and finishes with knockout blues "Love Me Like a Man" and Grievous Angel-vintage duet "Shadow." Speaking of Gram Parsons, former Flying Burrito Brother John Beland produced San Antone trio 10 City Run's debut Somethin' Else (Universal South). Besides hefty covers of Bob Wills' "Stay All Night" and Warren Zevon's "Carmelita," their gnarled, reverb-heavy rockabilly does Doug Sahm proud on "Juan Mendoza." Even lullaby "Goodnight Moon" sounds somehow menacing, something Austin's Derailers couldn't do covering Link Wray's "Rumble." But that's the point: Soldiers of Love (Palo Duro) is the revamped quintet's latest frolic through roadhouse country and early rock & roll. Hope Larry the Cable Guy doesn't mind their borrowing his catchphrase on "Get 'er Done," but at least "Soldier of Love" isn't a Donny Osmond cover. Christian soldier Justin Trevino's hymnal Before You Say Amen (Heart of Texas) will cleanse the most heathen ears: traditional songs of faith ("In the Garden") sung in a voice so pure it must be a gift from the Lord above. And before we say amen, a word about throaty Minnesota transplant Brennen Leigh's graceful Devil's on My Trail: amazing. Get behind her, Satan.