Newcomers Cole Deggs & the Lonesome fall somewhere between the hard edge of Montgomery Gentry's southern country rock and Blackhawk's silky smooth harmonies. Problem is, this "band of brothers" isn't particulary comfortable at either end of the spectrum.
Their southern rock lacks the creativity of Marshall Tucker, pales against Skynyrd's passion, is woefully short of the Allman Brothers' musicianship and misses the hillbilly attitude of the Charlie Daniels Band. They're like a 20-minute Molly Hatchet guitar solo - OK, so what's next?
The harmonies are workmanlike at best, layered behind occasionally embarrassing lead vocals (check the warbling on "Do You Ever Think About Me"). And with a couple exceptions the songwriting is predictable - "Everybody's Beautiful to Someone" and "Hugging the Blacktop" being the biggest offenders.
This is really unfortunate, because the two sets of brothers - Texans Cole and Shade Deggs and Louisianans Jimmy and David Wallace - are hardly overnight sensations. These guys separately have paid their dues, and odds are there's a damn fine bar band here that likely got all wide-eyed and conformed to slick Nashville production standards in order to make that debut record.
Rather than forcing the harmonies, as producers Mark Wright and Rivers Rutherford did, put them in their comfort zone. Let them sound like a Saturday night back-yard guitar pull. Let them cut loose for an entire album the way they do on the final song, "I Haven't Stopped Hurtin', " and this band could really set itself apart from this generation's southern country rock.