Randy Rogers / Randy Rogers Band

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Hellbent Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

The title of the eighth album from the Randy Rogers Band comes from "Hell Bent on a Heartache," an old Guy Clark song they've revived for this 2019 release. More than providing a name for an album, "Hell Bent on a Heartache" provides a musical touchstone for the band, allowing them to loosen up and shift direction. While they're still thoroughly a Red Dirt country band steeped in the traditions of Texas -- a Guy Clark cover suggests as much -- they're starting to settle into their middle age, toning back the rowdiness and favoring songs about characters. It's music built to endure, with the emotions etched deeper upon repeated plays -- whether it's on record or the road. To that end, they benefit from their choice of producer. Dave Cobb keeps the music direct and rangy, preserving the live vibe of the band while giving the music enough snap and color to sound like a fully realized record. And Hellbent does indeed seem like a complete album, containing as strong a set of songs as the Randy Rogers Band has ever had, as well as lively, lived-in performances that coax out all the details in the tunes.

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