This Is Br549


Lucky Dog Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Over the past year or two, I've seen an upturn in Western swing music. Maybe it's because I've been exposed to more of this genre while doing this job; maybe it's because public interest in this style of country music (while it never completely went away) is piquing again.

BR5-49 is not strictly a Western swing band, but neither are they a pure country or a pure rockabilly act. But over the course of three albums, the band has helped get many people's feet wet in several different genres of music, thanks to their own amalgam of styles - often in the same song.

Admittedly, I've not listened to BR5-49, until their latest disc, This Is BR5-49, came my way. For those who consider themselves to be country music purists, they're probably not gonna like what they hear. (Then again, what my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 is pure country music? There's a roundtable discussion to have the next time you're in a C&W bar... be sure to call me once they've removed the beer bottle splinters from your head.) For fans of BR5-49, this disc will probably not break any new ground, but will be enjoyable. For newcomers, this will be kind of exciting to listen to.

Some of the roads that BR5-49 cover have been well trod by such artists as Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt and Brooks and Dunn. Tracks such as "Too Lazy To Work, Too Nervous To Steal," "A Little Good News" and "Different Drum" (not a cover of the Stone Poneys hit) are light country numbers with a hint of rock's power behind them... and, in the case of "Too Lazy...", enough of a tempo to get you out on the dance floor doing the Texas two-step.

Yet on the songs that BR5-49 penned themselves, they're to be commended to not always trying to plug in a happy ending. "Different Drum" tells the story of the town misfit, who is forced to battle the demons of his childhood as they're dredged up by another new generation. They could have taken the easy way out and had the town discover what a prince the guy really was (usually after his tragic but heroic death), but they leave the story open for you to complete. That's skilled songwriting.

And yes, there is the occasional feel-good song like "A Little Good News," which is the open wish of turning on the television to not hear stories about death, fire and mayhem. And there's even a touch of disrespect thrown around, especially heard on the track "Psychic Lady" - which, surprisingly, isn't as harsh on the thieve... oops, I mean psychics... as one would have expected. (Memo to Miss Clio: Bet you saw this song coming, didn't you? And why is it when I try to read the cards, all they tell me is to lay the black jack on the red queen?)

This Is BR5-49 is an enjoyable enough album which is sure to win the group a new legion of fans while pleasing their established following. Sure, a band like this could look at a career move and try to focus in on one particular style of country music. But as long as they're doing it this well, and apparently having fun doing so, why change a good thing?

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 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 Lucky Dog Records, and is used for informational purposes only.