Listen Up: Wednesday, February 9, 2005
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Reckless Kelly

Wicked Twisted Road (Sugar Hill Records)

By Jimmy Fowler

The fifth album from this perpetually touring Austin-based quintet is being advertised as 13 songs that together create a single coming-of-age narrative. This is less interesting than Green Day’s coming-to-our-senses narrative in American Idiot, but you’d better prepare yourself for the portentous return of the concept album thanks to the latter’s unexpectedly large success. We know Reckless Kelly is loitering in grand statement territory because Wicked Twisted Road ends with a reprise of the title track, sorta the way life comes full circle — or doesn’t, unless you live in the mind of a genial country-rock troubadour who can’t decide whether he loves his baby or the road more and can’t come up with any fresh reason why we should care beyond the sturdy musicianship he and his bandmates share. Nashville producer Ray Kennedy (Steve Earle, Nanci Griffith) goes for a more laid-back, acoustic-edged sound here than he did on Reckless Kelly’s previous Sugar Hill effort, Under the Table & Above the Sun. Sleepy-eyed lead singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Willy Braun has myth on his mind when he ambles through suffocating small town doldrums (“Dogtown”), all-night motel beer blow-outs (“Cowboy Motel Show,” whose tempo slows to a pretentious crawl at the end of its five-plus minutes), beautiful but dangerous women (“Sadie Got a Sixgun,” with an intro clip of gunning engines and police sirens), and the realization of true love’s redemptive power (“Baby’s Got a Whole Lot More”). Brother Cody raves up a storm with fiddle and mandolin throughout, although it’s difficult to shake the feeling that the Braun boys are throwing a party with yesterday’s beer dregs. Maybe only a grouch can find excuses to complain about the harmonic homogeneity and threadbare lyrical conceits on Wicked Twisted Road, since tradition is most of the point here and Reckless Kelly doesn’t claim to be straining for any breakthroughs. But this kind of cheeky, Sixth Street, electric twang-sludge is more common in Austin than Jell-O shots and, at this point, about as appetizing. When .38 Special has already anticipated every trick in your musical bag, it might be a good time to reassess your life goals. — Jimmy Fowler


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