Life & 20

The Domino Kings

Slewfoot Records, 2000

http://myspace.com/dominokings

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/13/2000

I don't know whether it's a statement about how country music is today or whether it's just an issue of personal preference - but I find myself drawn to modern music that has an older feel to it. Oh, sure, I like artists such as Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn and so on... but when I hear albums like Life & 20 by The Domino Kings, I know these are the types of discs I could leave in the player non-stop.

The band - bassist Brian Capps, guitarist Stevie Newman and drummer Les Gallier - succeed in bringing back true Western music, almost in the vein of Hank Williams or Roy Rogers. The 14 cuts on this disc absolutely shine, and while there's enough heartbreak and pain to fill a week's worth of episodes of your favorite soap opera, I doubt there's many other bands who could make that pain feel so good to hear about.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

What's unique about Life & 20 is that every single song on this disc is an original composition by the band (save for one, which was co-written by the band and Loren Evans), yet they manage to capture the essence of generations of this type of music. That alone lets you know that you're listening to something truly special.

Whether it's the slightly rock-tinged "Borrow A Lie," the juke-joint boogie of "The End Of You" or the unique blend of influences in songs like "Anything But You," "Alice" and "Steppin' Out Again," The Domino Kings succeed in capturing the listener from the first note and refuse to let go until the CD has stopped spinning. They don't just follow the musical traditions of their forefathers; they make them better.

And you know something? The sad thing about Life & 20 is that many people wouldn't bother to look for this disc, only because the band is on a smaller label. I'd be willing to bet that many country radio stations wouldn't be willing to dump the latest overplayed Faith Hill single to make way for something with some Western substance. That's not fair to these guys, who absolutely pour their entire beings into the music on this disc. I'm not saying it has to sell enough copies to top the Billboard charts (though that's not a bad idea), but Life & 20 deserves to be given a fighting chance by everyone.

Sure, this disc might be a little harder to find (though I know that CDNOW stocks it), but after just one session with Life & 20, you'll be glad you gave The Domino Kings a fighting chance on your stereo system. This is country music for country music's sake, and it's one of the best discs I've listened to all year.

Rating: A

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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Slewfoot Records, and is used for informational purposes only.