The Cadillac Three


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Legacy Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Cadillac Three begins Legacy -- a somewhat high falutin' title for a third album -- with "Cadillacin'," a fuzzy blues that doubles as a statement of purpose. Within its lyrics, the trio tip their hats to ZZ Top's "Cheap Sunglasses" and the Lil' Ol' Band from Texas is never that far from the thoughts of this gang from Nashville. The Cadillac Three have been kicking around the Music City for a while, releasing their first record on Big Machine back in 2013, and they've kept at it while vocalist/guitarist Jaren Johnston built up a rep as a songwriter, but Legacy feels like the album where they hit their stride, in part because they do adhere to the greasy Southern boogie ZZ Top pioneered. They've stripped away any of the lingering cutesiness from Bury Me in My Boots -- a record where hard drinking was reduced to a "little sip sip sippy" -- and the leanness suits them, not just on the hard rockers but on singalongs designed for arenas ("American Slang") and sweet ballads. Sometimes, the Cadillac Three let it slip that they're aware of the burgeoning soul styles in modern country, but since they've decided to keep the production comparatively spare, "Take Me to the Bottom" doesn't sound like Sam Hunt, it evokes memories of old Southern R&B-rock bands. The Cadillac Three do spend a fair amount of time celebrating good old country music on Legacy -- they pledge allegiance to "Hank & Jesus" and declare "Ain't That Country" -- but the reason the record works is because they attack all this material from the stance of a working band, turning this into a tight and tough album that wears its swagger with a smile.

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