Black Music Matters Festival

Big & Rich

Horse of a Different Color – 2004 (Warner)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

CDs by Big & Rich

Big Kenny and John Rich would have you believe that the name of their act came from combining their names, but these guys are going to be bigger than big (they're already big even though this is their first album; they have a posse in Nashville known as the Muzik Mafia, and they're only slightly less devoted than the Grateful Dead's), and this CD is teeming with riches.

Big$Rich calls what they do "country music without prejudice" which means they have somehow taken the best of rock, country, Tex-Mex and even hip-hop to create a horse not only of unusual pigmentation, but of extraordinary surefootedness; there is not a single misstep anywhere on this generous (almost an hour of music) package. "Wild West Show" uses Lone Ranger references and western imagery to make a point about disintegrating relationships between lovers - and ultimately between nations. "Holy Water" is a heart-wrenching look at a woman recovering her spiritual equilibrium after an abusive relationship. "Kick My Ass" is the best bar-fighting song since Skynyrd's "Gimme Three Steps." And "Love Train" just might convince you for the first time since The Beatles that all you need is love.

And that's just scratching the surface of this CD where every track is a standout. Don't worry about what color this horse is, just know it's a thoroughbred, and it's going to give you a great ride.