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Mike Stinson

Hell & Half of Georgia – 2013 (Poplar Cove)

Reviewed by Henry L. Carrigan Jr.

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CDs by Mike Stinson

Produced by the inimitable R.S. Field (John Prine, Justin Townes Earle and Todd Snider, among others), "Hell and Half of Georgia" carries us on a journey through the halls of honky tonk and roadhouse rock, led by one of its kings, Mike Stinson. Three years after moving from L.A. to Houston and embracing the lonestar city as his home, Stinson delivers his strongest album yet.

Stinson kicks out the jams on the blistering opening track, Late for My Funeral, whose scorching licks channel John Hiatt's Perfectly Good Guitar and whose call-and-response chorus channels a gospel vibe that weaves around the wink-and-a-nod lyrics, "last one to find out that I was deceased/late for the undertake late for the hearse...last one to see that they were going to feed me to the beast." In his perfect roadhouse song, drenched in steel guitar, Died and Gone to Houston, Stinson affectionately and playfully celebrates his new home town: "I feel like I died and gone to Houston/the honky tonk angels they finally brought me home/I feel like I died and gone to Houston/heaven is a beer joint in a south Texas zone." Stinson channels Dylan's Stuck Inside of Mobile in the reverb-and-steel drenched tale of loss and pain, Lost Side of Town, with its "aimless wandering to get this far out on the lost side of town." Stinson boogies like a freight train through Got a Thing for You, then slows it down to moan the lovesick and sick-of-love blues of Put Me On.

Combining smoking hot guitar licks with world-wise and knowing lyrics, Stinson stands up and delivers a rousing album full of songs to which you've got to move - either can't-sit-still rockers or slower moaners that make us restless.