Listen Up: Wednesday, October 04, 2007
files\2007-10-03\lup2(ccr)10-3.jpg
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
Cross Canadian Ragweed

mission california
(Universal South Records)

By Jeff Prince

Cross Canadian Ragweed has delivered great live shows for the past decade, but the band’s CDs usually don’t live up to its promise. Much of their musical mojo disappears in the studio, and the thin nature of some of their songs becomes more obvious on record than when the listener is half-tanked and roaring in a honkytonk. To be fair, CCR has given fans what they want: one-dimensional alt-country tunes with plenty of sweaty references to cigarettes, booze, and drugs, and about as much depth as Paris Hilton in a kiddie pool. But mission california marks a turning point. The songwriting, vocals, musicianship, and production techniques all show improvement. Good art can be prickly, and frontman Cody Canada gets personal, digging deeper into his emotional well than ever before. “Dead Man,” an embittered missive to a sibling, is so spiteful, it’s almost uncomfortable to hear, particularly the line, “I wish my blood wasn’t in your veins.” And on “The Years,” he sings of his mother’s scummy boyfriend, pawnshops, oil fields, and other autobiographical insights.
In the past, Canada’s lyrics have lacked a writer’s eye. Tiny, seemingly incongruous details can breathe life into songs and keep them from feeling generic. Then again, shallowness is often a virtue in Texas Music and Red Dirt circles. Fans with beer bongs in one hand and dope bongs in the other aren’t always seeking insight into the human psyche. That crowd might not embrace this album as warmly as previous ones, although mission california introduces two barn-burners that should become staples at live shows: “Smoke Another” and “Deal.” The wistful “Soul Agent” is a bit of a departure, while the uptempo “Record Exec” sounds as if it would fit on a Kelly Clarkson album. The biggest surprise is “New York City Girl,” which embraces 1960s-style pop to nice effect. But the ballad “Lawrence” most clearly reveals CCR’s growth. It’s one of Canada’s best-written songs, with restrained musicianship, ideal production, and fantastic harmonies by guest vocalist Lee Ann Womack. The only song that falls flat is “In Oklahoma,” but these fellows are proud Okies, so we’ll give them a pass on that one.

Mon at Billy Bob’s Texas, 2520 Rodeo Plaza, FW. 817-624-7117. Bring a mission california CD or purchase a copy at the door for free admission.


Email this Article...

Back to Top


Copyright 2002 to 2018 FW Weekly.
3311 Hamilton Ave. Fort Worth, TX 76107
Phone: (817) 321-9700 - Fax: (817) 335-9575 - Email Contact
Archive System by PrimeSite Web Solutions