Rob Baird

Wrong Side of the River (Hard Luck Recording Company)

Texas Platters

After a quick turn in Nashville, Rob Baird returned to Texas to set up in Austin and get back to basics. The Memphis native's third album thus starts with the bluesy, swaggering declaration of "Ain't Nobody Got a Hold on Me." Unlike 2012's I Swear It's the Truth, Baird ranges more adventurous and looser, though still capable of sharp polished melodies like "Mercy Me" and "Oklahoma." A restlessness in sound and sentiment drives Wrong Side of the River, lending it a transitional feel that doesn't quite cohere even as it documents Baird finding a more honest and natural voice. At his best, the burning "Run of Good Luck" and softer "When I Go" finds the singer delivering heavy punches, but his rolls into more raucous Texas country with "Mississippi Moon" and the dark moan of the title track don't do justice to his obvious songwriting talent.

**.5

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