Honky Tonk Confidential is one of the Washington D.C. area's leading country bar bands. They're older folks with day jobs and a love for the traditional side of country music. Although the singing and playing are more or less ordinary - not bad by any means, but not exceptional - the album has two great strengths that make it stand out from most similar releases.
Unlike many groups, this band is not dominated by one person. The lead vocals are spread among three people, preventing anyone from wearing out their welcome. The songwriting is spread among even more folks. While bassist and sometime vocalist Geff King wrote seven of the songs, the other six come from a variety of other band members and friends.
Most importantly, the songwriting is very good in a wide range of familiar styles. Even songs that deal with seemingly cliched subjects, like "Honky Tonk 101" and "Hall of Old Flames," are made distinctive by the kind of wry humor that typified classic country. The standout song is the Marty Robbinsish "El Nino," on which co-writer Diana Quinn delivers her best vocal as well. But anything on this album beats listening to the radio by a country mile. (Too Many Dogs, 1203 East Capitol St., SE, Washington, DC 20003, $15 including shipping. 800-893-7254)