There is no shortage of songs or albums that appear in America as the main theme these days, from scratchy and blazing patrotic versions from the mainstream country herd to mocking and accusing things from the old country and Americana set. The United States is currently, to say the least, a popular and polarizing topic in music. It feels like it's just moments from the Southern Poverty Law Center, where the American flag itself is declared a symbol of hatred.
But Reckless Kelley doesn't really want to dive right into these whole fracas with their new double record American Jackpot / American Girls, despite what you can see from the title and cover. The first song on the album ("American Jackpot") relates how happy the Americans are to live in this time and place without missing the fact that there are still many who are fighting and that Countries were taken away from others. It's this dichotomy and a more nuanced and balanced view of the American experience of being grateful and proud, but a little guilty when you know you're great, but not others that set the table for the record.
Rather than talking about America itself in terms of songs about its great landscapes or the country's unique ethos, American Jackpot / American Girls is more about the American experience told through American stories – a grandpa who can fix everything Baseball player Jackie Robinson. And in the end it doesn't feel like a conceptual or thematic record at all. It feels like a fundamental Reckless Kelly record more than anything, which means that you get some rock songs, some country songs, songs in between, some jewels, probably a few clunkers, and in the end make a pretty good choice, if you & # 39; I want to kill an hour or two and listen to new songs.
With 20 songs, Reckless Kelly has a lot to unpack, but they do it easily by delivering songs with good hooks, fat melodies, and compelling stories and characters throughout the album. This is not Jason Isbell or American Aquarium. Ruthlessly, your heart can still bleed. But they're also here to make sure you have a good time, which you do. You can put a Reckless Kelly album from cover to cover, and it works for almost any occasion.
It may be a little adulterous to separate the two disks and compare them, as this should be a coherent work. But for conversation purposes, American girls feel like the superior rate. The American jackpot also has its moments, but you're struggling to hear this next standard for the Reckless Kelly live show, and it's a bit more abstract in its messages and sometimes has difficulty clarifying its point of view.
Part of the writing feels a bit sticky. "42" is a cool tribute to Jackie Robinson, but doesn't really put the weight behind his legacy as intended. "Mona" is a funny rocker, but doesn't make much sense in the lyrics. The record becomes most political with "Company of Kings", but it's not particularly obvious that Trump is at stake until you look at the corresponding song artwork on the Reckless Kelly website.
The band has won a Grammy in the past and has been specifically nominated for others for their album art. The vinyl for this project has been delayed, but listeners should go to their website and read the extensive liner notes for each song, with each track having its own cover, which is helpful in setting the context. Artwork is always part of Reckless Kelly's experience, and this publication is no exception.
In the meantime, the opening song by American Girls entitled "I can only see you with my eyes closed" could be the best of both sets. "All Over Again (Break Up Blues)" sets one of the best moods on both records. And if you're more of a die-hard country fan looking for what might appeal to you the most, start with steel guitar-drenched "Lonesome On My Own" wine in the windswept western theme "Anyplace That & # 39; s Wild ”his spurs and his Suzy Bogguss appearance and then the Dwight Yoakam feeling“ Lost Inside The Groove ”.
It is likely that there will be some filler tracks on a 20-song project, and the title track of the second record ("American Girls") is no exception. How many songs have been written about how beautiful American girls are? Do we really need another one?
But maybe some of the songs from the two-album set are supposed to be a little stereotypical for an American album – a bit of Beach Boys and Mellencamp to add a layer of nostalgia and reflection and make a deeper point beyond the songs themselves. There is a lot going on under the surface of American Jackpot / American Girls, which not all listeners might pick up on. Again, it's probably the point at which the more engaging song artwork in his art deco style meets Norman Rockwell's feel.
And even if they make a bad song, Reckless Kelly still makes it sound so good and makes your head wiggle. This is what brothers Willy and Cody Braun have been doing for almost 25 years. Turnpike Troubadours' Ryan Engleman recently played the lead guitar after David Abeyta's departure.
Don't expect a typical album about America, but another solid album by the Reckless Kelly crew that, despite some soft spots, sums up the different sounds and experiences of American life in captivating and entertaining moments that contain music that is almost ripe for listening at all times and crosses attraction of country, rock and Americana crowds.
1 1/2 guns up (7.5 / 10)
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