The Boxmasters

Somewhere Down the Road – 2015 (101 Ranch)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by The Boxmasters

phase, some pertinent facts are in order, namely, a) he's done four solo albums to date, b) the Boxmasters, his band since 2007, are now on their fourth album, "Somewhere Down the Road," but with three double discs, it's actually seven, c) his bio on the Boxmasters website talks exclusively about his musical accomplishments, choosing to highlight his stint as a roadie in the late '70s over his Oscar-nominated role and Oscar-winning screenplay for his 1996 film Sling Blade and d) he's pretty damn good at this music thing.

The Boxmasters' 2007 eponymous debut and 2009's "Modbilly" were both half original/half cover double albums, but "Somewhere Down the Road" is two discs of original material, with Thornton the one songwriting credit on every song. With the addition of Teddy Andredis and Brad Davis, The Boxmasters have kicked everything up a notch, as evidenced by the openers "Sometimes There's a Reason" and "You'll Be Lonely Tonight," which bristle and swagger like vintage Warren Zevon, while "This Game is Over" could pass for an outtake by Thornton's Sling Blade co-star Dwight Yoakam.

"A Thousand Miles Away" and "Love is Real" has the twanged up Brit pop sound The Boxmasters championed on "Modbilly," but this go round, the band is writing the songs rather than interpreting them.

In the absence of the covers aspect, "Somewhere Down the Road" is, for the most part, split between the zippier tracks on the first disc and the mid-tempo songs on the second, making "side one" the more engaging listen, but the quality of writing and performing is solid throughout. Get used to it, Billy Bob Thornton is as good with mic and guitar as he is with camera and script.