The Salty Dogs

Autoharpoon

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From the band name and punny album title, one would be forgiven for expecting the Salty Dogs' Autoharpoon to be, say, maritime folk-punk songs from Newfoundland about the drunken adventures of whalers or something like that. In fact, the Salty Dogs are an Arkansas quartet proffering pure old-fashioned honky tonk country in the great tradition of early Ray Price and the Bakersfield posse. Singer/songwriter Brad Williams knows his two-steps and shuffles, and he and the band, especially lap steel specialist Nick Devlin, alternate between cry-in-your-beer ballads like the downright Victorian "The People Cried" and more uptempo twangers like "Starting Now," featuring a guest shot from Elvis Presley's drummer D.J. Fontana. Other highlights include a crisp, unfussy extended workout on the country blues classic "Take Time to Know Her" and the unexpected art move of the two-part closer, "Heaven's Gates/Hell's Flames." Autoharpoon is unpretentious, joyous, and as pure as mountain dew.

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