Jason & the Scorchers

Lost & Found

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Jason & the Scorchers' first full-length album, Lost & Found, explodes out of the starting gate with "Last Time Around," a no-quarter rocker that starts with a blast from Perry Baggs' snare drum that sounds like a gunshot, and power chords from Warner Hodges' guitar that cut like a machete, and while the album's dynamics allow the impact of the music to rise and fall over the course of these 11 songs, the set always lives up to the high stakes set by the opening salvo. While the Scorchers' Fervor EP rocked hard, Lost & Found hits even harder, but also reveals a broader musical palate; "White Lies," "If Money Talks," and "Change the Tune" back up this band's reputation as Nashville's toughest country punks, but the honky tonk piano on "Broken Whiskey Glass" and feral fiddle work on "Blanket of Sorrow" show the big amps didn't drown out their traditionalist impulses. And while the Scorchers may rev "Lost Highway" up to 95 mph, the two acoustic numbers, "Still Tied" and "Far Behind," could pass for lost classics from some Grand Ol' Opry legend's songbook, and the latter tune makes clear Jason Ringenberg can sing sad and pretty every bit as well as he can howl the rock & roll. There was usually an element of camp in most early cowpunk acts, but Jason & the Scorchers thankfully had no truck with irony or derisive humor; they believed in the emotional honesty of great country music as much as the raw fury of punk, and Lost & Found pays homage to both with the undiluted passion of true believers, and it's the best record this fine band would ever make.

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