Heybale

The Last Country Album (Shuffle 5)

Texas Platters

Heybale

The Last Country Album (Shuffle 5)

While Heybale's Sunday night Continental Club residency has become Austin tradition, the first studio album from the quintet of country ringers proves just as compelling. Anchored by Redd Volkaert's guitar and Earl Poole Ball's piano, Heybale stacks mostly original tunes that play like a country music primer. Gary Claxton leads "California Wine" with a Haggard highway desperation, and Ball's "Livin' in a Cheap Motel" rings both playful and poignant. Volkaert gives Willie Nelson's "Mr. Record Man" a solid spin with Cindy Cashdollar on steel, and Claxton invests Tom T. Hall's "That's How I Got to Memphis" with a smooth ache, but the group shines on Erik Hokkanen instrumental "Heybalin'." Elana James' fiddle swings "Hang Your Head in Shame," "Everything ... About Drinkin'" tosses toward Roger Miller, and closer "Let's Go to Mexico" kicks with a Tex-Mex flavor. Though hardly the final word, The Last Country Album would serve well if it were.

***.5

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