Southern Drive

Q: When is a country record not merely a country record? A: When the record in question swaggers more than it swoons, or when the album makes your eyes sting with sweat, rather than filling them with tears.

While Southern Drive is considered by many to be one of the better country bands in Dallas, the band's latest LP, Sunland Radio, is a Southern rock record that would've fit just as naturally in Allman-era Macon, Georgia, as it absolutely does here in modern-day North Texas.

To augment Donnie Rex Martin's oak barrel-aged vocals, Southern Drive has significantly stepped up its game musically. The album possesses a veritable Crock-Pot of Southern-fried flourishes with its propulsive train-track rhythms, skin-scorching lead guitar and Kevin Garinger's show-stealing harmonica—his bold notes would soar through any sub-Mason-Dixon humidity with the greatest of ease and authority.

It's a fine release, the result of a band that has grown quite comfortable in its own skin over the course of its three years together. Indeed, Sunland Radio is a more tightly centered offering than Take a Ride, the band's debut album from 2008 that did little to distinguish the act as much more than a capable group of players still waiting to fully gel as an operative unit. Southern Drive does just that on this release.

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Kelly Dearmore