Smokin' Joe Kubek

My Heart's in Texas

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Smokin' Joe Kubek and Bnois King first hooked up in 1987, and their musical association has lasted nearly 20 years. Their albums are dependable affairs that stick close to good old barroom Texas blues, and on My Heart's in Texas, their third release from Blind Pig Records, the barroom aspect is literal, having been recorded live at the J & J Blues Bar in Ft. Worth, TX on New Year's Eve 2005. The formula is simple, combining Kubek's combustible guitar playing with King's serviceable vocals on a set of mostly generic blues rock originals with a couple of covers thrown in, and while nothing here gets too innovative, it won't surprise or disappoint fans of the duo, either. This is blue-collar electric blues and nothing more, and when it works, it works because neither Kubek nor King is trying to make it into anything profound or fancy. Unfortunately that also means that beyond the moment, few of these songs are particularly memorable. Granted, there are only a handful of themes and approaches in the blues, so if the original songs here seem predictable lyrically, so do most of the songs in the genre's canon when you get right down to it, unless you're talking about someone like J.B. Lenoir, who came to see the blues as a platform for cultural statement rather than just a personal diary of aches, pains, and complaints spun out of rhyming cliches. The best tracks here are the ones that step a bit out of the expected box, like the scorching take on Freddie King's "Boogie on Down" or the King/Kubek original, "Make It Right," which rides along on a refreshing near-reggae rhythm, or the title tune, which edges a bit toward country. Otherwise things here pretty much stay in the Texas roadhouse zone, a nice set to drink a few beers to, but nothing that will leave you thinking too hard about life in the morning.

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