Kevin Fowler makes no bones about being country, nor about being Texas. Indeed, the Amarillo-raised, Austin-based singer-songwriter's third self-released album hollers "Texas" from the first glance at the cover artwork - a no-nonsense portrait of a cowboy at home on the ranch, leaning on a posting, pickin' on the back porch with a dog at his feet, and standing alone on a wild-west dirt road, outside the general store, taking in the red Texas sunset sky.
And so it goes on an unbowingly country record which draws an unbroken line through honky tonk, hard country, cowboy and cantina songs which abound with Mex, Southern rock and twangy zest. It's pretty much upbeat all the way, with songs which revel in the pleasures of the moment - senoritas and tequila being ß la carte choices - with the occasional foray into life-as-lived philosophy on tracks such as "A Fool and His Heart," a standout radio-friendly track with terrific playing by pedal steel man-about-Austin, Marty Muse. The only clangers are the ballad, "Our Love Is A Prison," with its rather heavy-handed love/prison metaphor, and an ill-advised cover of Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls," a song which (once removed from its original high-camp context) comes across as a dumbed-down oglefest, and where's the fun in that? (Kevin Fowler)