Brian Wright

Rattle Their Chains

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Brian Wright is yet another in a long line of sharp, impressive Texas songwriters, a line that reaches back through Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Steve Earle, all the way back to Buddy Holly and beyond, and his songs stand up with any out there. He's a careful and exact lyricist, knows his way around a melody, and has an unerring pop sense as well as deft sense of arrangement. Rattle Their Chains is his second album for Sugar Hill Records, following his highly praised House on Fire from 2011, and his fourth album overall (Bluebird and Dog Ears were both issued before he signed with Sugar Hill). Unlike House on Fire, where Wright worked mostly alone and played most of the instruments, Rattle Their Chains features a solid band behind him, although he still plays an impressive list of instruments, including acoustic and electric guitars, bass, piano, mandolin, and Mellotron, and there's a thicker, looser sound to this set. But Wright's songs are the stars, and they're good ones, full of sharp turns of phrase, memorable situations and characters, and they're tightly written gems. Among the highlights are the easy grooving "Over Yet Blues" that opens things, the banjo-led "Red Rooster Social Club," the delicate and atmospheric "Weird Winter," and the mock epic "Rosalee," but everything here fits a certain flow. There's just something about these Texas songwriters. They might move to L.A. or New York, or end up in Nashville (as Wright has), but the songs, good ones, keep coming.

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