Reckless Kelly

Wicked Twisted Road (Sugar Hill)

"Seven Nights in Erie," the standout track on this Austin quintet's fine new release, makes explicit the connection between traditional Irish music and true hard-core honky-tonk. While singer Willy Braun applies his fine baritone, his brother Cody lays down a fiddle break so pristine you almost want to cry in your Guinness stout.

Elsewhere, Reckless Kelly dabbles in rural pop jangle ("A Lot to Ask"), quiet folk ("These Tears") and straight-ahead country rock (the explosive "Sixgun"). It's an impressive mix, musically (but not politically) akin to the best moments of Steve Earle. Not much of a stretch since Earle's twangtrust brother Ray Kennedy produced it.

Occasionally leaning dangerously close to modern-country schlock such as Travis Tritt and Toby Keith, the Braun brothers always seem to bring it back home, adding bite and a healthy reverence for old-school roots. Wicked Twisted Road goes a long way toward living up to the outlaw reputation of their namesake.

 
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