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Kent Rose

All That American Night – 2016 (Memory Train)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by Kent Rose

Chicago resident Kent Rose goes for a post-classic country sound on the title track - after Ernest Tubb but before hot, new country. It features an unimaginative drum beat (John McTigue), but some interesting touches of steel guitar (Paul Niehaus) and good guitar backing from Chris Casello. It tells an interesting story of bad luck ("The promoter took the cash box and split for Vegas") that somehow morphs into a fond memory a ("Technicolor sunset turns to black and white"). It may not make sense if it's not your memory but the song is infectious. He changes pace with "Jungle Jaguar Pants." Rose, who composed all the songs, offers an ode to a woman that captured his attention: "She got style that really flipped my wig." Whether it's the pants or the "way she shakes it" isn't certain, but the song is a rockabilly number that will put a tic in your tush even if you strain to understand the lyrics. (Rose has some of the lyrics on his website.)

He shows his depth by switching to a number that Hank Williams could have penned, "Tonight That Lover Ain't Me." Niehaus' crying steel guitar reminds you of Don Helms playing for Williams, but he might have put a bit more background on this one. The 3/4 beat without some guitar or fiddle adding fills gets tedious after a while. Even with a minor gripe, this is still a good song.

"Workingman's Hands" is another touching song, talking about the fear that his workingman's hands haven't been enough to satisfy his woman through the years. Many tracks are marked by a degree of minimalism. The steel guitar plays a prominent role, and the drums have a marked presence, but the bass (Jimmy Johnson) is a background instrument, hardly noticeable when compared to the prominent role it has in many country songs.

"When The Sadness" is yet another shift in style, sounding like a '60s rock number - you almost expect Roy Orbison on a guest spot. If you liked Orbison, Ricky Nelson and a long list of singers of love (and lost love) songs, you're bound to love this one. "This House Gets Lonesome" changes track by just a little, going down a Santana path perhaps. The guitar work of Casello stands out while McTigue (drums) comes to life and Niehaus' steel has a role, too.

This CD is anything but boring as it switches genres and has consistently good if sometimes understated backup music. Before forming an opinion about the CD, listen to it at least three times - you'll hear subtleties you missed the first or second times as it grows on you until you wonder why you ever had a question about it.