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Chris Scruggs

Honky Tonkin' Lifestyle – 2003 (MISSING)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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CDs by Chris Scruggs

The son of country great Gail Davies and grandson of bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs, Chris Scruggs makes a splash with a debut containing a hefty dose of rockabilly flavor.

Backed by a stripped-down rhythm section of upright bass (Dave Roe) and drums (Chris Detloff), the youngest member of BR549 offers plenty of his electric and non-pedal steel guitar playing on a mostly original set that leaves a powerful impression. Scruggs keeps things moving - there's not a ballad to be found here, and only a couple of mid-tempo honky tonkers - but distances himself from the rockabilly/hillbilly bop pack with a vocal style that has echoes of the elegant phrasing of Hall of Famer Hank Thompson, and with a surprisingly down-to-earth view of the honky tonkin' lifestyle. Themusic may have a rockin' hillbilly edge, but the lyrics to songs like "Sober Up And Think" and the title track cut against the grain, avoiding stereotypical, facile celebrations of drinking and cutting up.

At once raw, energetic and, in its own way, thoughtful, Scruggs' first album is a nifty introduction that's a must-have for anyone interested in keeping tabs on who's up and coming on the country music scene.