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The Contenders

Laughing with the Reckless

Review by Gary Hill

It's hard to decide if this album is country music or Southern rock. Those lines were always blurry. Either way, if you like music that's infused with country and rock (along with some folk music and bluegrass), you are sure to enjoy this set. It's delivered with style, and the songwriting is solid and inspired. This manages to ride the line between classic and fresh.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 2 at

Track by Track Review
Line Across the Water
Intricate acoustic guitar starts this cut. The track works out to something that's part Southern rock, part bluegrass and all cool. This has great vocals hooks and exceptional instrumental work.
Call Me the Lucky One
A bit more balladic, this is more purely country based. I dig the slide guitar fills on the cut.
The Flood
Another that's more balladic, this has a lot of bluesy rock in it. At times it reminds me a little of the early days of Fleetwood Mac. That said, there is still plenty of country music built into the number. The guitar solo section even reminds me of Dire Straits a bit. This is another classy tune on a classy disc.
Finer Weather
Southern rock and country music are the driving factors here. This is a strong ballad. It's catchy and works quite well.
The Night That Jackson Fell
While overall this isn't a big change from the previous one, there is a lot of folk music in the mix here. I love some of the intricate instrumental work on this one. The vocal arrangement is particularly strong, too.
Save a Place at the Table
Intricate guitar begins this. The cut is more pure folk music. It makes me think of Gordon Lightfoot in a lot of ways. It's another strong piece. Banjo brings some bluegrass to the mix here.
Something True
Folk, classic rock and country sounds are all heard on this killer cut. It is energized and catchy. It is one of the highlights of the set. Given the competition, that says a lot. I love the guitar soloing on this cut.
Not Enough
Another rocker with country elements in the mix, this is a cool track.
Hills of Caroline
Country and folk music merge on the stripped back, acoustic guitar driven modes at the start this tune. The cut works forward from there, working upward toward more of a rocking country sound. This is catchy and classy, and very cool. There is some serious jamming as the cut gets into more down home party music later.
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