The Derailers


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The Derailers' second album since moving up to a major label, 2003's Genuine sounds like a genuine improvement over their previous release, 2001's Here Come the Derailers; while it still suffers from the excess of slickness that's been heaped upon one of the finest honky tonk acts in the land, this time around the bandmembers sound as if they've been able to work through Kyle Lehning's production instead of being completely buried by it. Which isn't to say this album wouldn't be better sounding a bit leaner -- do you really need 11 additional musicians to accompany a four-piece band, especially one this tight? -- and with some of the lesser material clipped away (most notable offender being the faux-nostalgic "Whole Other World"). But at least vocalist Tony Villanueva and guitarist Brian Hofeldt get their fair chance to strut their stuff on Genuine, and with Jim Lauderdale and Al Anderson pitching in on the songwriting, the material manages a higher batting average this time around. Sure, most of Genuine sounds as if it were crafted in hopes of landing on country radio, but "The Way to My Heart," "Take It Back," and "Boomerang Heart" would class up any play list they were added to, and show these guys haven't completely lost touch with their Buck Owens-loving souls (they also toss in a vintage Owens and Don Rich instrumental for good measure, which Hofeldt plays the hell out of). If Here Come the Derailers found the band losing round one of the battle against the corporate ogre, Genuine at least finds the Derailers fighting to a draw, and that's good news.

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