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Arty Hill and the Long Gone Daddys

Back on the Rail – 2009 (Cow Island)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

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CDs by Arty Hill and the Long Gone Daddys

Arty Hill and the Long Gone Daddys deftly demonstrate how good roots music can be when it is done simply. Aided in no small part by electric guitarist Dave Chappell and drummer Craig Stevens, Hill crafted a 12-song set of original songs - he wrote 11 of them - that express authentic country heartache and hard-drinkin' good times with modern leaning lyrics and '60s country rhythms. The CD was first put out four years ago and is repressed by Hill's current label with new liner notes.

Loaded with twangy shuffles that never lose their groove (Jackson Shake, Big Daddy's Rye,), the CD showcases Hill and the Daddys effortlessly capturing their honky tonk essence (Drifting In). Hook song conscious (I Left Highland Town, Me and My Glass Jaw) and occasionally rockabilly powered (It Ain't Workin', I Ate Through the Jail), the disc shifts gears like a barroom band determined to make the dance crowd thirsty.

That said, the most impressive moments come via the acoustic oriented ballads. The nostalgic Tammerlane conjures bittersweet visions of young interracial love destroyed by prejudice. The intense solo folk approach of When the Sparks Come Falling Down and cry-in-your-drink scenario of Back on the Rail essays star-crossed bitterness that has been missing from break-up songs for too many years. Drenched in sawdust-on-the-floor feeling and smartly sequenced, this entertaining release is what country music used to be all about.