Sunset Motel (No Big Deal)
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Oct. 21, 2016
Reckless Kelly's ninth studio outing finds the Austin quintet confronting 20 years together and contemplating a successful career that's never quite broken into more mainstream attention. The band acknowledges as much with the guitar roar and sarcasm of "Radio" ("You want the money and the fame and the sold-out shows/ You gotta get on the radio"). RK continues striking a regional chord with Red Dirt roots/rock appeal, Sunset Motel showcasing Willy Braun's strongest, most mature songwriting to date. That spans the ear-worming rhythm of opener "How Can You Love Him (You Don't Even Like Him)" to the acoustic strum of "One More One Last Time" and the Mavericks-esque heartbreak melody of "The Champ." The title track issues a low, plodding plea in league with the tender turn of "Forever Today" and bruising ballad "Sad Songs About You." The band still kicks over its amps ("Give It Up," "Moment in the Sun"), but Sunset Motel feels like an album cut on more reflective, personal, and honest terms.