Twanguero, Eddie Foster, Dave Insley, Kimmie Rhodes, and Eleven Hundred Springs
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., May 16, 2008
No denying the twang of Twanguero's sophomore LP, Big Bend. As for the "guero," the local quartet's fiddle flavor is injected with surf-rock licks and Chris Collins' blazing six-string. Instrumental numbers outshine the vocals, the Twang gang winding spaghetti Western soundtracks in unexpected turns, from the squealing guitar solo on "Search and Destroy" to the island lilt of "Tiki Torture." "Mock Turk" lurches low and mean, and "Soul Stroll" kicks a swaggering cowboy jive. Eddie Foster cuts some twang of his own across the pedal steel of his debut, Copano Bay. At his best, the former Randy Rogers Band member hints toward the emotional pull of Jimmy LaFave ("Endless Game," "Giving Up Heaven"), a solid songwriter if paired with the right artist. Dave Insley's third solo disc, West Texas Wine, pours a stiff round of classic country trucker ballads ("Exit 93"), family narratives ("Geneva's Gonna Leave Ya"), and broken odes ("Beatin' Ya Down"). Insley's rough-hewn voice spikes Conway Twitty's "Don't Take It Away" perfectly, while his backing Careless Smokers roll on Johnny Darrell's "Come See What's Left of Your Man." Kimmie Rhodes remains a credit to Austin songwriters with Walls Fall Down (Sunbird), the innocence of her voice softly infusing "All in All" and Townes Van Zandt's "If I Needed You." The bluesy "There's a Storm Coming" and stellar twist of Rodney Crowell's "Sex and Gasoline" contrast the more fey "Beautiful" and lackluster take on the Beatles' "The Fool on the Hill." Settling into their 10th year, Dallas' Eleven Hundred Springs serve up their fourth studio LP, Country Jam (Palo Duro), by leaning into their honky-tonk roots behind Lloyd Maines' production, dishing Tex-Mex ("Texas Afternoon"), Bakersfield shuffles ("Whose Heart Are You Breaking Tonight"), rockabilly ("Rocket 88," "V-8 Ford Boogie"), and George Jones' "Don't Stop the Music" with equal aplomb.