If you kinda suspect that the gents in the Steven L. Smith Band stepped out of a logging camp to make this disc, I can't blame ya. They're some burly tough looking' muthahs, which is why it's a surprise that the intro cut is such a cool MOR number, not unreminiscent of Bob Welch-era Fleetwood Mac blended with the Michael Stanley Band and a bit of Pat McGee, maybe Bob Meighan. This is also the track that introduces us to the oh-so-tasty Archie Anderson (yep!, same name as the famed conic book character) on lead guitar, and, man, can this cat play! With the smooth and variegated approach of a Walter Becker but the edge and grit of a well-catalogued rocker, Anderson peals off killer leads and great chord choices, Steven Smith playing rhythm behind while singing up front.
The true vibe of Pieces, though, is just what the promo lit claims it to be: honky-tonkin' from, to cop a verse from Smith himself, an old hillbilly with a smoking' hot wife…maybe metaphorical, maybe not. Thus, Marshall Tucker, Charlie Daniels, and an assortment of the children of Merle, Willie, and Ray make their way into his refrains. Truck Seat Angel is more Springsteenesque, vibrant and brash, a redneck ode unafraid to step up to the front door and pound on it. Then a C.W. McCall vibe edges in through cuts like Freebird Fly, so all y'all who love that deep country smoke and wheatstraw, this is a release that'll have you lickin' yer chops and passing the jug. However, I'm warning the yuppie wannabes out there: this is REAL country rock, not that cutesy crap you hear on alt radio.
Which is probably why Crystal Gale and Jimmy van Zant sat in, attracted to the dusty roots all through Smith's work, unable to find it quite this sharply extolled elsewhere. Forget looking for the band's music in one of them thar perfumey SoCal hoity-toit glitz palaces with John Cougar Mellenightcap daquiris and North 40 doilies; instead, you'll find Steven and the boys sweating away down at the Roadhouse or in a fightin' 'n drinkin' wayside in Amarillo (by way of upstate NY!), the younguns loving Anderson's Outlaws licks, the older crowd hunkering down to a wavefront of the old days in Smith's cowboy comps.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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