Reckless KellyBulletproof (Yep Roc Records)
The cover of Reckless Kelly's fifth studio album and Yep Roc debut, Bulletproof, comes branded with the image of folk hero Ned Kelly and definitively subtitled "Death Defying Songs for Looters and Thieves." Opener "Ragged as the Road" makes good on the claim, channeling Woody Guthrie through the trailblazing fervor of RK running mate Joe Ely, its locomotive rhythm bucking almost as hard as producer David Abeyta's barbwire guitar, which cuts deep throughout the album. "You Don't Have to Stay Forever" beautifully conveys Kelly's eternal restlessness, a subtle organ accentuating the Braun brothers' aching harmony, while "Love in Her Eyes" and the title track rekindle the raucousness documented on the Austinites' double live outing, 2006's Reckless Kelly Was Here. The walking bassline on "A Guy Like Me" sounds like an Americana version of Green Day's "American Idiot," but only the visceral "American Blood" and poignant, Katrina-inspired "God Forsaken Town," co-written with Robert Earl Keen, carry the same weight. Bulletproof might not be quite as "fearless & action packed" as its label suggests ("Wandering Eye," "How Was California?"), but Reckless Kelly takes enough chances to corral its strongest and most well-rounded effort to date.