Just looking at the pictures on the cover of Eric Heatherly's debut CD SWIMMING IN CHAMPAGNE gives you an idea of the kind of music he makes. Vintage bowling shirt, sideburns, leopard-skin shoes, big-finned car--this guy's a rockabilly hepcat who owes as much to Elvis and Carl Perkins as he does to George Jones. But more importantly, he's a breath of fresh air in the morass of country-pop crossover mush. Heatherly's lead guitar rocks, twangs, and honky-tonks as his tough-but-tender voice delivers these finely-crafted, mostly self-penned songs.
The versatile Heatherly plays the bad boy on tracks such as "I Just Break 'Em," the bluesy "Freedom Chain," and the rowdy "Wrong Five O'Clock," but shows his soft side on the Chris Isaak-ish title track, the rockin' "WhyDon'tCha" and the anguished "One Night" and "Didn't Mean A Thing." Heatherly's most audacious move is covering the Statler Brothers' classic "Flowers on the Wall"--one of the oddest country hits ever--yet he manages to give the song just the right touch of retro-cool to pull it off. It's safe to say that if the late Carl Perkins heard SWIMMING IN CHAMPAGNE, he'd have just three words for Eric Heatherly: "Go cat, go!"