New York country-rock songwriter Dusty Wright has turned the amplifiers up on Elevened, his third solo outing after a virtual career playing in bands of varying degrees of total obscurity. No Depression and other media outlets have hailed Wright as a worthy successor to the original outlaw movement for his previous two outings. Thankfully, that hype has been minor. The guy can write, and he can sing, and most of all, he can rock. Elevened has plenty of country music in its veins and on its front porch -- the restless waltz "Cuts Like a Blade" comes immediately to mind -- but the raw, blazing electric guitars on "Dusty Road" and "Cherry Red Mustang" move the set to the left musically. But it's the swampy blues overdrive of "Farmer's Daughter" that puts everything into perspective. Here is where the Cramps, the Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy, and the Red Devils all commingle on some unholy tavern's stage with rotgut and cheap cigarettes for nourishment. Wright can pen the sweet sad ones as well, as evidenced by "Watching Angels Cry," or turn all cinematic and, well, dusty on "The Devil's Handmaid." But the voodoo stroll on "Dead End" or the teen garage rockabilly rave-up on "Love Saves the Day" are the real treasures here. The too-reverent Texas country read of Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz" doesn't cut it, but thankfully it's at the end of the disk. The faithful country stuff that Wright does is capable and worthy, but when he lets it rock, he could create his own legend or be Jason Ringenberg's replacement in the Scorchers.
by Thom Jurek