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Kevin Deal

Honky Tonks-N-Churches – 2000 (Blind Nello)

Reviewed by Andy Turner

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CDs by Kevin Deal

On his second release, Texan Kevin Deal explores the worlds of hell raising and hell fire, of the wild side of life and the wings of a dove, and of the nightlife and Sunday morning coming down.

The characters Deal writes and sings about - he wrote 11 of the 12 tracks - are no strangers to "dim lit bars, wine and dance," and they know "honky tonks and churches they both can teach you right from wrong." Deal's songs are sometimes funny, sometimes sad or sometimes both, but they are always straightforward. His well-worn voice fits the songs perfectly, a man who sounds like he knows what he's singing about. Produced by Lloyd Maines, this never comes off "pretty." Not that there isn't beauty in the roughness, a quality that brings to mind another Texas singer-songwriter, Guy Clark.

The album ends with the spare and haunting "The Man I Used to Be," a tale of a former prisoner who has literally seen the light and blames no one but his old self, asking not to be forgiven, but just for help from God to get through it all. (Kevin Deal, E-Mail: kevin@kevindeal.com)