Great songs, great playing
Reviewed September 2009
Bend in the Road
By Mark Stuart and the Bastard Sons
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
Longtime San Diego country band Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash has not only moved to Austin, but they've dropped the Johnny Cash reference from the band name, replacing it with that of their lead singer and chief songwriter.
The less-gimmicky name is designed to and should serve to put the focus on Stuart's songwriting and singing. Truth is, he sounds nothing like Cash, and the combo was never a tribute band more like a hard-charging country-rock band in the lineage of San Diego's roots rock community, musically descended from the Beat Farmers and Mojo Nixon.
Their latest, the fourth from the Bastard Sons, finds the band is a firmly country vein, but with a definite rock underpinning. And while the album opens with a cover of a Billy Joe Shaver song, the best song is Stuart's own "Power of a Woman" a high-energy electric country-rocker. Or maybe it's the lovely acoustic "Lonestar, Lovestruck, Blues" (with Dennis Caplinger's gorgeous mandolin fills giving it a real nice old-timey feel). Or maybe it's the barrelhouse country boogie of "Seven Miles to Memphis."
Point is, Stuart can write, and the 11 tracks he wrote for this release are not only solid, but catchy, the kind you'll have a hard time getting out of your head. The band is tight, he's got a nice singing voice they'd sure seem to be a lucky break or two from hitting it big.
Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).