If Reckless Kelly were a transmission, it would be a five-speed. The Austin quintet's latest effort, Wicked Twisted Road, captures its music in all gears, from the quiet, low-gear country folk of the title track to lilting second-gear love-song ballads, from drunk-and-stumble alt-country Irish travelogues to off-the-speedometer Allman Brothers rumblers and nasty white-boy overdrive blues-rockers. Songwriting has always been a Reckless forte, and front man Willie Braun and his co-writing friends and relatives have once again hit the lyrical bull's-eye with lines such as these: "My first love was a wicked twisted road/Hit the million-mile mark at 17 years old" (from "Wicked"). The album takes the long view of the band's catalog, showcasing the wide range of styles employed in both its recorded work and its live presentations; tracks such as "Sixgun" and "Wretched Again" illustrate the increasingly loud and hard-rocking direction the group is taking onstage. Call it alt-country if you want, but most of it is way too muscular to fit neatly into that niche.
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