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Suzette Lawrence & the Neon Angels

Tear Up the Honky Tonk – 2014 ( Self-released)

Reviewed by Rick Bell

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CDs by Suzette Lawrence & the Neon Angels

The chasm between badass alt.-country Texas singer and polished Nashville crooner seems to grow wider with every Luke Bryan-wannabe's latest pseudo-country release. And maybe that's the way it should be. But then there are some performers like Suzette Lawrence who offer the reassurance that the two distinct worlds can coexist like a Texas Ranger atop the Tennessee stud.

Considering that this is Lawrence's debut, which she produced, largely wrote and probably made the coffee too, there are surprisingly few hitches in this Texas-born girl's getalong.

Lawrence currently calls East Nashville home, and the singer-songwriter takes us on an impressive journey past sweaty back-road honky tonks and through torchy downtown lounges. There are plenty of references throughout the 11-song collection to her native Lone Star State. She swings through the rollicking "Texas State Line" and closes with the declarative rocker "Yo Soy Tejana."

Lawrence seems a bit uncomfortable as a balladeer on "Barely Hangin' On," but is right at home with her rockabilly attitude on the rip roarin' twangy "Leavin' His Town." She's giving the eff-off to some poor schlub on "Kitty Cat Scratch" and completely cuts loose on the sweaty title cut.

Coming from a family with a musical background that included singing background and playing bass in the family bluegrass band as a young girl, she's certainly no newcomer to performing. Perhaps that's why she's able to meld so many styles and make it distinctly her own.