From a band that has experienced changing personnel from the start, King of Heartache presents the classic, confident sound that has been characteristic of the Souvenirs. As their debut recording, it contains 12 original tracks written by lead singer and guitarist Lucky Lawrence, plus one Faron Young cover, "Your Old Used to Be." Highlights include the locally popular title track "King of Heartache," a swift rockabilly ballad featuring a shimmering walk-down guitar lick backed by pedal steel. "Hide Away," perhaps the most somber track, elevates its simplicity with lush pedal steel and acoustic guitar, and a poignant chord progression to finish the song. Texas swing, Western swing, and rockabilly rhythms suffuse the album, and tracks such as "I Will Be With You" or "1000 Miles Away" hint at sultry desert landscapes with their tremolo guitar effects and echoing Morricone-style whistling. The zesty "Anna Marie" features guest appearances by mariachi musicians. Closing the album is "Heartbroken Man," a rocker reminiscent of ZZ Top in their early-'70s Texas blues days -- a song that really gathers its full strength in live performance, though the studio recording is strong. Lyrics are clever and classic, if not predictable for the genre, highlighting themes of sweet seductresses, heartbreak, unrequited love, and bar-room loneliness. The vastly talented Don Pawlak lends pedal steel throughout, and intermittent vocal harmonies add class and polish to their sound. Lawrence's voice is mature and unfaltering, just short of riding off in a John Wayne posse. The album succeeds most as a solid representation of its musical genre, rather than a work of particular originality or melodic interest. At the time of recording, the core lineup included Lucky Lawrence, lead vocals and guitars; Buck Edwards, bass; "Mo," guitars, backing vocals, and piano; Boots Kutz, drums and vocals; and Don (DJ) Pawlak, pedal steel.
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AllMusic Review by Lisa M. Smith