Unrepentant (XIII Bis)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Feb. 8, 2008
Calvin RussellUnrepentant (XIII Bis)
A contemporary of Townes Van Zandt and Blaze Foley in the 1980s, Calvin Russell is an Austin native with a colorful past. He remains wildly popular in Europe, where he's resided for nearly 20 years, still bearing the mantle of Texas outlaw. By some accounts, Unrepentant is his 13th album, and it's a woolly affair of boisterous rock & roll and dirty blues. Some might be put off by Russell's impetuous growl of a voice, as he doesn't sing as much as rasp, but it fits well with the rowdy nature of his songs. He's not exactly a poet in the same vein as Van Zandt or Foley, most of the tunes here being pretty simple and direct. "Are you ready for the rock & roll?" the grizzled vet asks in the set opener, and he rarely gets any deeper than that. Those attracted to unpretentious rock & blooze might enjoy this; those with more discriminating tastes might want to steer clear.