By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
"Long Way to Lubbock," the opening cut on this impressive debut, showcases the singing and songwriting acumen of Red Leg frontman Richard Davis. Dense and poignant, "Lubbock" is just one of the nine gems collected on Rattlesnake Inn, making it one of the surprise local releases of the year. Hell, even when Davis has the misguided chutzpah to title an original song "Tupelo Honey," he and his band have the ability to bring a new take to a classic theme.
Very reminiscent of The Band (not at all a bad thing), Davis and his Texas Red Legs forge together their own sturdy take on Americana, combining the passion of prime Steve Earle with the mystery of '70s-era Dylan. Produced by drummer Tomy Le Dudley, Rattlesnake Inn is as accomplished a first effort as one is likely to stumble upon; the singing is appropriately ramshackle, and the instruments fade in and out almost on cue as Davis details various countrified concerns, such as getting somewhere in a hurry ("Burnin' Down 35") or looking for love in all the wrong places ("She Fell in Love at the Jukebox").
As a songwriter, Davis' debut finds him on equal footing with both Rhett Miller and Brent Best. And from start to finish, Rattlesnake Inn delivers the alt-country goods with power, passion and (thankfully) absolutely no polish.
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