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Armadillo Road

Honky Tonk Way – 2018 ( Self-released)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Armadillo Road

The second release from the Austin-based quintet Armadillo Road is a mix of traditional country and southern rock at times delivered with a hard alt.-country edge. Frontmen Tee-Jay Hill (bass) and Jeremy Edens (rhythm guitar) share songwriting and lead vocal duties, with Hill providing much of the classic country influence.

The tale of lost love "There's No One" recalls Buck Owens with a touch of Robbie Fulks, while the swaggering "Never Been Loved" ("But if you ain't been loved by a country boy/You never been loved") is reminiscent of Johnny Paycheck.

The influence of Merle Haggard is prominent with the ballad "Broken Hearts" in which Hill is defiant in the wake of a breakup ("All the blame you cast my direction/Ain't all my own, you've got your flaws"), as well as in the tragically humorous "Whiskey, You Done Done It Again!" ("Well, I woke this morning on the living room floor/Half inside and half out the door").

Edens provides a harder edge on the raucous opening track "Baby Wants to Boogie" and the Waylon Jennings flavored "He Don't Cry." The honky tonk feel of Hank Williams, Jr. is evident on the title track as well as the closing "Chains" in which Edens explores an unfortunate path to ruin ("I honky tonked my way out of money/I honky tonked my way out of house and home").

Produced by Eric McKinney along with the band, the musicianship is solid throughout with Hill and Edens nicely supported by Josh Jarratt (lead guitar, backing vocals), Jessie Esquivel (drums, backing vocals), Michael Paul (steel guitar) and guest performer Eddie Dickerson (The Lost Pines) on fiddle. Armadillo Road has turned in an effort with pleasant lead and harmony vocals, solid compositions and strong performances.