The first solo album from Jason Boesel -- drummer extraordinaire for the likes of Rilo Kiley, Bright Eyes, and Conor Oberst’s Mystic Valley Band -- finds the sideman hanging up his drumsticks, picking up the guitar, and strumming his way through 11 tracks of casual, walking-speed Americana. It’s an L.A. record through and through, influenced by California’s country-rock tradition and featuring cameos by SoCal figures like Blake Sennett, Jonathan Wilson, and longtime Tom Petty keyboardist Benmont Tench. Boesel established his songwriting credentials one year before this album’s release, when a pair of his own compositions appeared on the Mystic Valley Band’s Outer South. He’s still new to the frontman game, though, and he plays the role casually, crooning his songs in a straightforward baritone that rarely overwhelms. It may be tempting to compare these songs to those by Boesel’s former bandmates -- he doesn’t prize the pop hook as highly as Rilo Kiley, for example, and his lyrics lack Bright Eyes’ studied punch -- but Hustler’s Son does exactly what it sets out to do, which is establish a mood and keep those dusky vibes burning for 45 minutes.
AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey