Reckless Kelly

Under the Table and Above the Sun

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Call it whatever you want -- country-rock, alt-country, roots rock, whatever -- what Reckless Kelly makes is great, hooky pop music. It's got all the jangly guitars, two-step rhythms, and artificial diphthongs ("I saw the same old streets for far too lahwong") necessary to reassure country-music fans who might nervously suspect that they're enjoying rock & roll, but it makes no real concessions to the genre; when they want to rock out, they do ("Let's Just Fall," "I Saw It Coming"), and when they want to deliver a full-on Texas barroom weeper, complete with a vaguely Mexican acoustic guitar break and strategic smatterings of lap steel, well, they do that too. The brother team of Willy and Cody Braun manage to touch all of the standard, by-the-numbers lyrical themes without seeming to be saying the same things as everyone else. They're asking for mercy and to be set free, and they're broke down, and they're trying to make it to the borderline, and they're frustrated by the inaccessibility of the woman who wasn't around when the sun went down. But when they sing "Nobody's Girl" or "Set Me Free," those tired sentiments actually sound vital and fresh. It's also worth noting that the album includes two songs about skiing and one about the Beatles. Interestingly, there's no one song that really jumps out at you. Instead, the whole thing pulls you along happily, with a feeling very much like that of riding through rugged, beautiful countryside in a nice car. Highly recommended.

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