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The Waco Brothers

Freedom and Weep – 2005 (Bloodshot)

Reviewed by T.J. Simon

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CDs by The Waco Brothers

On this seventh release from Chicago's Waco Brothers, the band led by Welshman Jon Langford reprises the "Cash Meets Clash" formula that's made the group one of the most formidable bar bands in America over the past 10 years.Unfortunately, the disc proves to be the weakest release in the band's otherwise excellent catalog. This is largely because Langford turns lead vocal duties over to his bandmates for 8 or the 13 tracks. Most are sung by Dean Schlabowske, whose voice just isn't up to the task on cuts including "Lincoln Town Car" and the Rolling Stones-influenced, "Nothing At All."

With Langford at the helm, things improve quite a bit, particularly on "Missing Link" and "How Fast the Time." But even Langford, who can normally do no wrong, bites off more than he can chew on the overly-wordy "Chosen One" and fails to find a hook on the unremarkable "It's Amazing."

Fans of country-rock unfamiliar with the impressive discography of the Waco Brothers will be well-served to check out any of the band's extraordinary first six discs. Just be sure to avoid this aberration of an album from this first-rate band.