The Panhandlers is an all-star group, of sorts, but only if you closely follow left-of-the-dial Americana artists. Josh Abbott may be its most famous member and is joined here by Cleto Cordero (Flatland Cavalry), John Baumann and William Clark Green for a self-titled effort. It is, in a word, 'Texan,' as many of these songs reference that 'bigger is always better' state. And it's especially good, too.
Oh, and the album is fully traditional country, as well. It opens lightheartedly with "West Texas In My Eye," but becomes deadly serious on "The Panhandler," which speaks bluntly about homelessness and drug abuse. Then with "Lonesome Heart," the quartet squarely addresses loneliness. The act follows up these two tragedies with the light-stepping romance of "Cactus Flower."
The quartet dolls out some mighty fine honky-tonk dancefloor music with "This Is My Life," a song that lyrically celebrates the musician's life. With its fiddle and steel guitar-saturation, it'll make you want to shuffle across the floor, if not also turn you jealous of the touring lifestyle. Its lyrics also describe each member's individual characteristics, almost like the Panhandler theme song.
The album closes with "Caprockin'," a quieter reflection on Texas life. It's sung from the perspective of one who dearly loves country life. No, this existence is not always exciting, and it can be downright scary whenever natural disasters - like tornadoes - strike, but it's the life this one man sincerely loves. Just as the slow pace of country life isn't for everybody, so also are these sorts of straight ahead Southwestern sounds. However, if you love your country music with a distinctly Texas accent, The Panhandlers will sound like home sweet home to you.