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Whitey Morgan and the 78's

Hard Times and White Lines – 2018 ( Self-released)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Whitey Morgan and the 78's

Whitey Morgan's fourth studio release exhibits the singer/songwriter's reverence for outlaw country and southern rock. The influence of Hank Williams, Jr. is evident on the opening "Honky Tonk Hell" with lyrics that evoke the Eagles and Elvis Presley ("You'll never check out of this heartbreak hotel"), while "Bourbon and Blues" gives a shout out to Hank Sr. ("I keep gettin' the same advice Hank Williams never used").

A recurring theme is adapting to change as with the Morgan composition "What Am I Supposed To Do?" about the decline of the auto industry ("I sit by as my city slowly dies and wonder about my fate" and "I'm 45 and I've got no place to hide"). Similarly the Glen Campbell-flavored cover of Dale Watson's "Carryin' On This Way" confronts the aging process ("Crashing into forty/Might better think about growin' up").

The Flint, Mich. native addresses darker themes with "Fiddler's Inn" (co-written with Ward Davis) including drug addiction and prostitution ("There's a needle in 235/It's keeping a young girl alive/She'll open the door/For two, or three or four different men"). Other highlights are the Waylonesque collaboration with Travis Meadows "Around Here" and a rocking version of ZZ Top's "Just Got Paid" with scorching steel guitar work by Brett Robinson.

Morgan produced and co-wrote the eight original tracks and is nicely supported throughout with notable guest appearances from Jesse Dayton and Larry Campbell. With Morgan's strong vocals, smart compositions and solid performances this is a compelling listen.