Here's the perfect antidote for country fans who mourn the loss of old-school flavors in lieu of the modern polished pop crossover approach. First the pedigrees for those who know the names but can't place them: Hillman is one of the great innovators of California country-rock, with legendary associations including the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Manassas, and other post-Byrds and Burrito lineups featuring former members. Pedersons crystal-clear tenor has graced the work of artists like Vince Gill, Johnny Rivers, and Linda Ronstadt, along with his bands the Dillards and the Laurel Canyon Ramblers. These two met as members of the Desert Rose Band and, all these years later, still apparently love folk, bluegrass, and old country -- styles which make up the bulk of the influences on this easy-going-down project. There are lots of crisp, twangy guitars and a colorful 17-track run featuring familiar themes like love, heartache, and living life the hard way. "Backporch Boy" is an instrumental bluegrass prelude, followed up by traditional honky tonk flavors on the she-done-me-wrong song "There You Go" and "Problems" (the perfect cross of country instrumentation and Everly Brothers harmonies). Other highlights are the lament "Invitation to the Blues" and "Better Man Than That," which sounds like one of those classic, Eagles-flavored early-'70s Southern California classics. There are also gospel elements here and there on pieces like "The Old Cross Roads." Affiliated with Narada and Virgin, Back Porch Records is billed as a roots rock and Americana label, and this disc offers a throwback to various classic styles that are all at once comfortable and challenging.
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran