Eleven Hundred Springs

This Crazy Life

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With This Crazy Life, Texas territory band Eleven Hundred Springs is 12 years and seven albums into its career as a successful regional act, playing a varied brand of country music to the delight of fans in and around its home base of Dallas. In those dozen years, there have been many personnel changes, but the band remains a vehicle for the singing, songwriting, and guitar playing of Matt Hillyer, and Steven Berg remains the bassist. (Steel guitarist Danny Crelin, fiddler Jordan Hendrix, and drummer Brian Ferguson complete the unit.) Hillyer has a twangy tenor voice that is similar to, but less adenoidal than Jimmie Dale Gilmore's, and he writes sturdy country songs on familiar topics and in familiar styles. The title song leads things off, and it's a statement of purpose directed to a wife left at home with the kids from her musician husband on the road, claiming, unconvincingly, that one of these days he's going to give it all up and come home. "Great American Trainwreck" elaborates on this stance, adding in the usual substance abuse problems. Hillyer often paints a portrait of the singer as a loser, particularly in the waltz "The OG Blues," in which "OG" might not stand for "original gangster" in the rap sense, but rather, perhaps, just "old guy." As the album goes on, however, Hillyer's narrator becomes more comfortable, particularly when he turns to Western Swing styles on the ballad "I'm in a Mellow Mood" and the two-step "Some Things Don't Go Together." Maybe it just takes him a while to get going since, by the end, in the rocking Cajun tune "Straight to Bed," he sounds ready for some amorous action. This Crazy Life provides several songs to add to the repertoire of a working band that may never get out of Texas, but that will please its many local fans. Texas is a big state, after all.

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