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Randy Rogers Band

Hellbent – 2019 ( Self-released)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Randy Rogers Band

Randy Rogers makes a big, bold statement with his title track, but it's the smaller insightful moment expressed through "Wine In A Coffee Cup" that stands out most. Rogers sings it empathetically over a swaying groove, one highlighted by equally empathetic fiddle. And it's an unusual drinking song. It's not about someone going out to a club and noisily ordering round after round to conspicuously drink away a heartache. Instead, it's a woman applying an "undercover pick me up" by spiking her coffee with wine at work. It beautifully paints a portrait of a 9 to 5 worker who is slowly drowning her sorrows in disguise.

Rogers' album is filled with plenty of traditional country music, which makes it a refreshing delight. Nothing on is as good as "Wine In A Coffee Cup," which is one of the best country songs of the year so far, but the upbeat, danceable "I'll Never Get Over You" puts a sad story to a happy beat. The mid-tempo title track includes an especially wonderful line. When stating how heartache is an equal opportunity hurter, Rogers reminds us, "It's all the same for the kings and the fools." The song includes sentiments much like Steve Earle's "Fearless Heart" when Rogers admits, "Every time I turn around, I make the same mistake." He, too, has a fearless heart. A few of the lyrical details on "We Never Made It To Mexico" are memorable as well. On a song expressing regrets about never making it south of the border, sums up these circumstances best when Rogers smartly confesses, "I'll be drinking tequila at the airport hotel," because that's as far as he got. He sings it to a folksy arrangement and even spices up the lyrics with a few words in Spanish.

There's not enough greatness on "Hellbent" to make it a great album, but in the places it shines, it shines brightly.