reckless kelly — somewhere in time

Reckless Kelly — Somewhere In Time. Out 2/8, Yep Roc Records.

I was glad that I had a series of topical posts come up this week, because I’ve been dragging my feet on thinking about Reckless Kelly’s new release, which dropped Tuesday. I adored their 2008 release Bulletproof — a Yep Roc employee once told me, “I think you’re the only person outside of Texas who loved that album,” and if that’s true, I’ll own it: that album is a kick-ass country rock album — and I enjoy 2006’s Wicked Twisted Road, so I was truly genuinely excited about Somewhere In Time.

And I picked it up, and I listened to it a couple of times, and I read a little about the album itself, and I realized … I had no idea what to say about it, because I had absolutely zero context for it. Somewhere In Time is a covers album, and I knew less than nothing about the original artist. I’d never even heard of him. I can talk about Steve Earle’s Townes or the compilation Introducing Townes Van Zandt via the Great Unknown; I know Townes, I have a starting point for those albums. But I had absolutely nowhere to start on this album, and it left me a little befuddled.

The guys in Reckless Kelly are consummate musicians; musically, it’s a tight, swinging album, just like their previous work — maybe a little twangier, because Bulletproof flat out rocks on occasion — but as to the songwriting, I’ve got nothing. It’s a good album. I enjoy it. But on first listen, it wasn’t anywhere close to replacing their previous album as my go-to Reckless Kelly listen.

After that, I went and read some about Pinto Bennett, a country songwriter and musician from Boise, Idaho, who had a great deal of influence on Reckless Kelly’s Willy and Cody Braun (Reckless Kelly is based in Texas, but the Braun brothers grew up in Idaho), and I listened to some of his recordings, and I still think … this is a very good tribute to an overlooked songwriter who quite obviously played a huge part in the musical development that led to Reckless Kelly. I’ll probably pick up an album or two of Bennett fronting his old band, The Famous Motel Cowboys, just to check him out a little further. I’m always glad to be exposed to new artists via covers albums (see the aforementioned Introducing Townes Van Zandt; there are several artists on that album whose original stuff I plan to check out) and Bennett is a solid songwriter of whom I’d never heard before this album.

I’d still rather have had a new disc of Reckless Kelly originals, if you want to know the truth. Bennett had, as I said, a visible influence on the Brauns and their songwriting, but I think they’ve grown up and grown past him; I think they’re better songwriters on their own than Bennett was.

I don’t mean this as a slight to Bennett, Reckless Kelly, or to this album. I’m glad they made it. But it’s for established Reckless Kelly fans; it isn’t a great introduction to the band themselves. It won’t end up on my year end list, I don’t think, but Reckless Kelly is worth noting regardless. And now they’ve shown up where they came from, I hope that they’ll get back to showing me where they’re going. Their particular brand of twang can rock hard and I can always use more cowpunk in my life.

No sample track today, because I’m paranoid about the recent Google shutdown of several music blogs — I know, I know, that’s on Blogger, not WordPress, but I’m paranoid, okay? — but you can stream the whole album over at Yep Roc. I particularly recommend “I’ve Done Everything I Could Do Wrong” and “I Hold The Bottle, You Hold The Wheel”. Give it a listen, and then check out Bulletproof, too. I hope they tour; they have a history of playing the NC either on nights I can’t see them or with headliners who are waaay out of my price range, and I really would love to see them live.

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