Even though Boston-area label Cow Island Music is still wet behind the ears, it has already put out some strong records, including this one from Arty Hill and the Long Gone Daddys. Baltimore-based Hill and company serve up meat-and-potatoes honky-tonk, and they do it with the sort of dexterity and craft that makes it seem easy. Hill's songwriting, mostly about the usual suspects - hurtin', cheatin' and drinkin' - shows a facility at making something fresh out of timeworn wordplays (check out "I'm one man with two makers, the Lord above and the bottle 80 proof," to pick one particularly catchy example)1.
The music traverses classic hard shuffle ("I'm Thinkin' It's Better This Way," "Don't Take It Out on Tina"), slow weeper ("Hall of Fame of Nothing"), some prime, fiddle-and-steel honky-tonk ("Bar of Gold," about a honky-tonk that's past its prime), Berry-inspired rock-and-twang ("Tore Up Junction" and "If You See Me Comin'," a turbocharged tale of hauling contraband), and, to finish up, a little slice of Hank ("Hankin' Around"). There's nothing much new here; just fine singing and playing and rock-solid country music that'll stick with you.