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Jason & the Scorchers

Halcyon Times – 2010 (Self-released)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by Jason & the Scorchers

"It doesn't matter what we thought in 1993/Everything has got to change, including you and me," wails Jason Ringenberg in the midst of the balls-out rock and roll of Mona Lee, one of the songs on the first Jason & the Scorchers studio album in 14 years. Change may indeed be inevitable, but the question on the mind of long-time followers and fans is nonetheless likely to be whether those things that made the Scorchers the Scorchers - their singular combination of fervent rock and sweet 'n' twangy country, Warner Hodges's kerranging guitar and the dulcet tones of Jason Ringenberg's singing - are still in place, unbowed and undiminished.

They'll be happy to find that the answer to their question is an unqualified yes. In fact, what Ringenberg and Hodges and new recruits Pontus Snibb and Al Collins have produced here (with able assistance from others, including "honorary Scorchers" Dan Baird, Tommy Womack and Ginger), can stand with anything from the band's formidable past.

Vintage high-test Scorcher rock bookends the album - Moonshine Guy, out of place and out of sorts in a "six-pack world," opens the affair, and We've Got It Goin' On, as righteous a blast of cowpunk as the Scorchers have ever delivered, brings things to a careening close.

In between, there's passionate balladry (Beat on the Mountain), smoldering anthems (Land of the Free), a little history (family in the Celtic-flavored Mother of Greed, personal and celebratory in Golden Days), dusty alt.-country sounds (Days of Wine and Roses), stripped-down, acoustic country honk (When Did It Get So Easy (to Lie to Me)), and of course, more of the rock. This isn't just a return, it's a declaration.