ACL Fest Friday Reviews

ACL Fest Friday Reviews

Asleep at the Wheel

Reinventing the Wheel (Bismeaux)

While it may not be reinventing their signature style, Asleep at the Wheel's first album of new material in almost a decade does swing full circle by returning to their early formation of tri-shared lead vocals. Ray Benson's comfortable drawl finds appropriate complements in Jason Roberts' countrified twang and Elizabeth McQueen's saucy jazz verve, the three encompassing the typically broad extension of the group's Texas swing roots, though the vocal trio unfortunately only unites behind 1999 Ride With Bob holdover "Misery." The Blind Boys of Alabama add an exuberantly haphazard call-and-response chorus to opener "The Devil Ain't Lazy" before Benson kicks into the jive-jumping blues of Mose Allison's "Your Mind Is on Vacation." Roberts' original "Am I Right (or Amarillo)" gives the clever adage a honky-tonk spin, his fiddle rollicking alongside Eddie Rivers' steel guitar, while McQueen reworks "I'm an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande)" with a debutante's cheeky aloofness. Closing with Guy Clark's "The Cape" lends Reinventing the Wheel its greatest divergence simply for the song's fairly straightforward rendering, though Benson's seasoned voice adds a touching and sincere nostalgia to the band's usual freewheeling antics. (12:30pm, AMD stage)


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Asleep at the Wheel

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