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Ronny Elliott

My Nerves Are Bad Tonight – 1999 (Blue Heart)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Ronny Elliott

Though Ronny Elliott lists Hank Williams as a major influence, there is not alot of twang here. Some tunes feature mandolin or steel guitar, but Elliott seems more influenced by rock and blues.

The title track has a Velvet Underground feel to it, and throughout, the vocals are a cross between Lou Reed and John Hartford. In "South By So What," Elliott seems to voice a dislike for the alternative country community as he recalls a visit to Austin for South by Southwest. He has particular disdain for the press ("trying to be hip for the press was more than half the battle") and for record labels ("I can't tell one record executive from another").

"Heroes" appears to be written in response to John Lennon's 1970 tune "God," in which Lennon gives a list of people and things that he doesn't believe in. Elliott takes the opposite approach and includes in his list several people mentioned in the Lennon song (Jesus, Elvis, JFK, Buddha). The most country sounding track is "They Don't Rob Trains Any More," a dark portrait of an outlaw who murders his sister ("he broke her neck and buried her behind the outhouse after he dressed her up in an Indian wedding gown").

Elliott appears to have singer-songwriter ambition in the mode of Steve Earle or Robert Earl Keen, but he lacks the humor and melodic quality that defines those artists' best work. (Blue Hearts, 179 Baltic Circle, Tampa, FL 33606)