The opening chords of Great American Trainwreck, the second song on the new album from Eleven Hundred Springs, you think you're about to hear a long-lost song from the Waylon Jennings catalog, circa 1977. But no, it's an original from Dallas-based Eleven Hundred Springs and written by lead singer and guitarist Matt Hillyer. All the songs here are Hillyer originals. EHS is one of those Texas bands that embraces its retro-country roots - from good ol' honky tonk to rockabilly.
Speaking of that Waylon influence, it comes through loud and clear on the earthy and honest Honky Tonk Angels (Don't Happen Overnight). And while the lyrics on This Crazy Life" are not about a rock star facing a fickle public, as is the subject of Bad Company's "Shooting Star," the chorus has that repeated phrase "doncha know, doncha know" that makes you think you are about to hear "Shooting Star." Tricky one, guys.
Hillyer's charming voice will win you over on the folksy There's A Place For You and I'm In A Mellow Mood. Danny Crelin's steel guitar makes you think of tropical beaches, blue skies and a glass of something sweet and colorful. This is no Kenny Chesney beach country, but a classy, jazzy summer song.
A little Texas swing on Some Things Don't Go Together will put a smile on your face, as will the Doug Sahm-influenced Straight To Bed.
While the production quality could be a little more polished, Eleven Hundred Springs isn't trying to wow the Nashville types on "This Crazy Life." They do what they love.