Reckless Kelly

Somewhere in Time

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The fact that Reckless Kelly's raw, rootsy brand of country music has to be labeled "alternative country-rock" may say something about the sad state of things in that musical neighborhood; not that long ago, it seems like it would have just been called country music, or maybe "outlaw country" à la Waylon Jennings or Billy Joe Shaver -- or Pinto Bennett, the legendary Idaho singer/songwriter in whose honor Reckless Kelly put together this collection of songs. Bennett gave the group counsel and support in its early days, and the band returns the favor with this stellar album dedicated to his compositions. There are really no weak tracks here: the honky tonk lament "I've Done Everything I Could Do Wrong," the flat-out rocking "Ballad of Elano DeLeon," and the Mavericks-sounding "Bird on a Wire" would all be the highlight tracks on any other band's album, and even the slightly seasick waltz "Somewhere in Time" manages to rock powerfully. Willy Braun's chesty lead vocals are a big part of Reckless Kelly's winning sound: he stays just close enough to the country mainstream with his resonant baritone and moderate twang, but ventures at will into rockier vocal terrain as well. Lead guitarist David Abeyta treads a similarly fuzzy boundary between forward-thinking rockism and the country verities, and good for both of them. The result is a country-rock album that's as satisfying as a 12-ounce steak with a big pile of mashed potatoes.

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