The Austin-based Reckless Kelly's follow-up to "Good Luck & True Love" has a somewhat softer edge than their acclaimed 2011 release, though songwriter Willy Braun's cynical view of love and relationships remains fully intact. The opening title track sets the tone ("I wonder why I keep torturing my soul/Beneath the urban sky") that pervades the album.
There are still some solid country rockers, including Real Cool Hand and Every Step Of the Way, and particularly I Can't Stand It featuring some hot licks from guitarist David Abeyta. The mid-tempo The Girl I Knew and The Last Goodbye sound like they could have been hits for Dwight Yoakam in the '90s.
One of the strongest tracks is Be My Friend (in real life) in which Braun pokes some fun at modern technology and social media with suggestions to "Put down your devices and live your life/Won't you be my friend in real life" and "You could call me I could write you/Not long ago that was all we could do."
Other highlights are the country ballad Irish Goodbye in which the singer ponders the future of his relationship ("I wonder if she really cares/Which direction I'll be going or that I'm even gone") and the folksy closing track Idaho, an homage to Braun's home state ("The soles of my shoes succumb to the miles/My ragged clothes left frayed and torn/Amidst the solitude and silence/Under snow-capped peaks where I was born").
The cd packaging is entertaining as well, including a blue LED light that can be used to expose glow in the dark images on the cd cover and fold-out lyric insert. With Willy Braun's brilliant compositions nicely supported throughout by Abeyta's lead guitar work, brother Cody Braun (fiddle, mandolin), Jay Nazz (drums), Joe Miller (bass) and a guest appearance by steel guitar luminary Lloyd Maines, this is an impressive effort.