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The Warhorses

The Warhorses – 2016 (19 Charlie)

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

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"Authenticity and honesty are not the first words that come to mind when talking about modern country music" states the opening sentence in The Warhorses bio. Indeed, their goal is to be as old school as possible.

The quartet's self-titled debut is the antithesis of bro country, The album is a 10-track effort about love in some shape or form; be it losing, salvaging or finding it. Six songs exceed the typically frowned upon four-minute mark, but the band make good use of the extra time by showcasing their respective talents. The rockabilly fast picking "Steppin' Away" has a Carl Perkins feel where the pedal steel shines.

Traditional instrumentation pervades throughout, sometimes with a vengeance. Sonny Biel's Telecaster is generally played deftly, but also with heavy metal ferocity that will make your ears ring especially on the full throttle opener "Leaving In Your Eyes." Founder and lead vocalist Casey Shaw's heavy southern drawl is pronounced, further lending credence to the group's desire to be perceived as traditional. The sole misstep is on "I Drink Whisky" where the twangy Telecaster and pedal steel feel gratuitous; as if they are compensating for the clichéd feel of the vapid lost love drinking anthem" with the lines "I fill my glass with amber/drink myself to sleep/ I know I won't remember things I know I should regret/ but that ain't stopped me yet

The band strives to be real in an era of pick-up trucks short shorts and backwards baseball caps. They are certainly not fans of glossy contemporary country, a little bit leaks in on "Driving Blind." It brings Jason Aldean immediately to mind. Though it may be counter to the band's philosophy, it does not do the album a disservice.