Chris Leigh gets his latest, Broken Hearted Friends, off to a rollickin' start by amalgamating rockabilly, country, and blues in a lamenting doff of the truck-drivin' cap to the problems of the Everyman, adding enough grinning tears to fill that pitcher of beer right back up to the brim. Hell, this lad's voice has more twang in it than 12 damn geetars, and the country element is dead-nuts perfect, but that writing ability? Well, it's tuneful as hell, with hummable hooks, infectious refrains, and boot scootin' rhythms. Think of this as Stray Cats meets hard-core country with the hillbillies and rednecks having them a righteous ol' time at the local bar instead of kicking the crap out of each other.
Thank Leigh's ex-wife for this solid gold CD, as had she not dropped his ass in the gutter, he most likely would never have made this album, and, for my money, it's 100% classic…'n I ain't all that fond of trad country, y'all (though I gotta say the damn style's growing on me 'cause of work like this)! After 18 years of marriage, Chris found himself bereft before he could say "What on Earth???" and went through the kind of rough patch that either breaks or makes ya. More than a few of us have been through that, and I wish to heaven we could all have redeemed ourselves like this gent has.
The swingin' nasty-ass Ramblin Man is a sarcastic treasure a la Roger Miller, wailing on religion, the law, wimmens, and whatever gets in Leigh's gunsights in a hilariously profane manner that'll have even the priesthood snickering and thinking about a night on the town. Chris picked a crack outfit to back him, too, and I mean REALLY good, as will make Bob Wills, Commander Cody, Charlie Daniels, Brian Setzer, and Dan Hicks slaver like dogs just as the kibble's being laid down. These be-boppin' daddies have every inch the sass, savvy, and sweet swingin' upstartery Leigh himself embodies in a lushly engineered crystal clear recording…but, goddammit!, what the hell are all these cats eating and drinking that they're starting off 2013 with such a bang?!?! This is the latest of a dozen hideously good CDs I've run across, and—well, okay, I do have a number of PR cats 'n kitties with killer tastes sendin' 'em my way—but, dang it all, in 25+ years of reviewing, I've never run across such a wealth of top-notch musical activity before. Is it the recession? Is it the forest of competition opened up by YouTube and the InterNet? Or is it just that we're entering a new Golden Age of art…in this case climbing out of the roadhouse as a bleary sun rises? My money's on the lattermost. Seems pretty damn obvious to me. And if you're unsure, grab this, and I'll meet ya at the county seat to knock back a few right by the jukebox.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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