The Last Hombres

Redemption

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The second album by upstate New York roots-rockers the Last Hombres garnered considerably more attention than their locally released debut, thanks to their newest member, ex-Band drummer Levon Helm. Helm neither sings nor writes on Redemption, so hardcore Music From Big Pink devotees looking for new shards of the true cross might be disappointed. On the other hand, Helm has good taste: Unlike so many of the minor-league roots-rock bands dotting the bars of America, the Last Hombres have strong songwriters in singer Paul Schmitz and bassist Michael Meehan, and a fiery (but never too flashy) lead guitarist in Russ Seeger. The combination of Seeger's twangy Dick Dale-meets-Johnny Winter leads and the pop/rock swagger of should-be-hits like the opening "King of Memphis" -- a song John Mellencamp or Bonnie Raitt would give their eyeteeth for -- and barroom ballads like Seeger's own "Swoon" make Redemption a solidly entertaining platter. An old friend of Helm's, New Riders of the Purple Sage pedal steel maestro Buddy Cage, guests on several tracks, adding to the overall '70s country rock feel.

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