Josh Abbott / Josh Abbott Band

She's Like Texas

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The Josh Abbott Band's sophomore effort rumbles out like a Texas thunderstorm. His opening track, "Road Trippin," is a good-ole-boy party anthem that speaks to Abbott's time as a Texas Tech frat boy. This rambunctious road-trip tale, fueled by energetic fiddle and guitar playing, offers a strong introduction to Abbott's muscular country-rock sound, although it doesn't suggest his full range. The bulk of She's Like Texas finds Abbott examining relationships -- being in love and, more often, trying to repair love. These aren't unusual country song topics but Abbott finds fresh ways to express them, especially the rockier side of romance. The instantly catchy, smartly written "All of a Sudden" is rousing both musically and lyrically, as it reveals a man who realizes that his woman is gone. "If You're Leaving (I'm Coming Too)" is another strong track dealing with a troubled relationship. Built around the clever title line, Abbott also stocks it with other winning couplets like "If I'm broken promises, baby you're the lies." The reconciliation theme rises again in "Fall in Love Again," which -- along with "I Just Wanna Love You" -- stands as a heartfelt evocation of love, simple but not sappy. "Hot Water" heats things up with its steamy shower seduction scenario; however, the strongest love song here is "Oh, Tonight." Abbott, sounding somewhat like Steve Earle, nicely projects masculine strength and sensitivity as he duets with fellow Texan (and onetime Nashville Star contestant) Kacey Musgraves. The title track is a sweet, easy-to-like love ode to a girl that also serves as a Lone Star State valentine. "Bushy Creek" and "End of a Dirt Road" are good-timing tunes that extol the virtues of small-town life. The latter song, which includes guest vocals from Roger Creager and Trent Willmon, serves as something of a road tune bookend to the opening number. The album concludes with "Let My Tears Be Still," which is somewhat out of character with the rest of the disc. This spare, piano-based tune is a moving portrait of an old, dying WWII/Korean War vet who is looking back at his life. The songwriting maturity shown here reveals that Abbott is more than just a fun-loving frat boy with girl troubles. Producer Erik Herbst does a fine job helping to provide Abbott with a full-bodied yet grounded sound, as does his backing band, particularly lead guitarist Gabe Hanson and fiddler Preston Wait. There is much to love in She's Like Texas and, with this terrific disc, Josh Abbott stands poised to be the next big talent to the leap out of fertile Texas music scene.

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