Pat Todd is not a man who believes in wasting time, and a year after he and his band the Rankoutsiders made their recording debut with the roaring double-disc set The Outskirts of Your Heart (and with a full slate of live shows under their belt), Todd and company are back in the saddle with their second post-Lazy Cowgirls effort, Holdin' Onto Trouble's Hand. This album feels a shade less ambitious than The Outskirts of Your Heart, since it's only one disc and mixes up the electric and acoustic material rather than presenting them in two separate chapters, but with 20 songs and clocking in at nearly 80 minutes, no one in his right mind would accuse Todd of slacking off, and for a songwriter this prolific it's remarkable that he's able to keep his game on point with such consistency. From the opening firestorm of "Where the Sidewalk Ends," this album proves Pat Todd is still one of the most powerful and fiercely passionate performers in rock & roll, and though full-blown Marshall-powered bombast sits side by side with campfire-quiet acoustic tunes (including "King of Drugs," with Pat accompanying himself on banjo), it's all of a piece in its honesty and sense of emotional commitment. The Outskirts of Your Heart was said to have been largely inspired by a busted romance, and though there are some tales of love gone sour on Holdin' Onto Trouble's Hand, most of the songs here deal more with the nuts and bolts of living in the modern world -- the lure of danger versus the pull of responsibility, the challenge of living life on your own terms, and figuring how to separate the many lies from the rare flashes of truth. Todd sings of this stuff with the conviction of a man who's seen too much not to share his street smarts with us, and while the Rankoutsiders have gone through a few personnel changes since their first album, this edition of the band sounds like 12 months of gigging has done them a world of good. Few people can rock so hard for so long while getting so little recognition as Pat Todd, and Holdin' Onto Trouble's Hand shows he isn't close to being done -- God help us all when this font of inspiration finally hangs it up.
Holdin' Onto Trouble's Hand Review
by Mark Deming