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The Salty Dogs

Goodnight – 2017 (Max)

Reviewed by Greg Yost

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CDs by The Salty Dogs

In just six songs, the Little Rock, Ark.-based The Salty Dogs proves its mastery of several classic and contemporary country styles. Following a 60-second scratchy acoustic intro, a recording made on the 1947 Voice-o-Graph machine at Jack White's Third Man Records in Nashville, which serves as a preview for the album-closing title track, the band breaks out the twang with a high-energy rendition of The Louvin Brothers's classic "The Christian Life."

Eschewing the laid-back country approach The Byrds took in covering the tune for its "Sweetheart Of The Rodeo" album, this dance-inducing version is a sweet blend of country and rock that brings to mind Dwight Yoakam's signature sound.

The quintet traverses into roots rock territory with "Nickels Into Dimes," a guitar-driven rocker that could have easily been included in early albums by alternative country giants like Son Volt and Wilco.

The influence of Tom Petty and other southern-tinged rockers is reflected on "Wounded Heart." This track, with its catchy riff and an even catchier chorus, shines a light on the songwriting abilities of Brad Williams, the band's tunesmith.

Williams, who is also the primary singer, shows off his considerable vocal chops on the album-closing "Goodnight." This lost love ballad, with beautiful fiddle and mandolin accompaniment courtesy of multi-instrumentalist Tim Crouch, affords Williams the opportunity to let his warm and emotive pipes carry the tune.

The sultry and smoky "Takes 1," which is also the most intriguing foray, is another vocal high point. Meandering electric guitar lines combine with muted trumpet and piano to make for a moody and jazzy little slice of slow country blues - one that seems to indicate that The Salty Dogs is not a band confined by typical country conventions.