Randy Rogers Band

Nothing Shines Like Neon – 2016 (Tommy Jackson Records)

Reviewed by Dustin Blumhagen

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CDs by Randy Rogers Band

Randy Rogers Band's latest album cover provides insight into the music contained within. The brightly lit neon sign is a familiar sight to those who frequent honky tonks and smoky barrooms. The Texas country band plays music that is designed specifically for these locations and crowds within. Almost every song on this album has alcohol as one of the main characters. Fresh on the heels of Rogers' excellent twang filled collaboration with Wade Bowen, he returns with his full band with a much more diverse offering.

Much like the Saturday night set list of every small town bar band across America, the album weaves between sombre ballads of heartbreak and uptempo numbers designed to fill the dance floor. While country music is the foundation of the band's sound, their ability to explore the blues and rock and roll add depth to the music.

The influence of 1990s mainstream country music is evident, which is increased by Rogers' occasional vocal similarity to Tim McGraw. The guest list is impressive and well utilized. The rollicking "Takin' it As it Comes" features Jerry Jeff Walker, whose grizzled voice provides nice contrast. They approach the outlaw sound again on "Actin' Crazy," which has an appearance from Jamey Johnson. The use of these vocalists works well as counterpoint to Rogers' smooth vocals and provides diversity.

On the other end of the spectrum, Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski help to make "Look out Yonder" the prettiest song on the album, although it is arguably close enough to Kristofferson's "Pilgrim Ch. 33" to warrant scrutiny. They seem to be recycling ideas again on "Tequila Eyes" which has a smooth '80s sound and borrows heavily from John Anderson's "Straight Tequila Night" thematically. Nevertheless, it is a great song.

The band sounds comfortable throughout on what is the strongest offering from Randy Rogers Band to date. The tempos shift from slow burners powered by pedal steel to boot stompers. Like any great bar band, they cover a wide variety of sounds and experiment with various genres, offering something for every fan in the crowd.