Mercury, 1989

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Although ironically never making an impact in the States, Texas was pretty popular in their home country of Scotland (and throughout the UK) in the ‘90s and early 2000s. The irony is not only in the band’s name, but in their embracing of light twangy country and Chrissie Hynde (Pretenders), a sound that has paid dividends for artists like Shania Twain, Reba McEntire, and Alannah Myles.

Anyone who enjoys those artists will find my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Southside a fine listen. The disc is a breezy 45 minutes of adult pop, inoffensive and charming, with a few slide guitar licks and singer Sharleen Spiteri’s adoption of a slight country drawl. One could easily see Reba covering “Thrill Has Gone,” though it’s more accurate to say Texas could cover a Reba song during their open-mic night at the local country bar.

Although the sound is slightly country, it has a strong post-1983 Pretenders vibe, with Spiteri assuming the role of kinda tough yet mostly tender front woman; Hynde at least had an edge and some punk cred, but Spiteri is happy to sing breakup songs. Although the lyrics are fairly simple, most of them revolve around lost loves, as evidenced by the titles: “Fight The Feeling,” “Thrill Has Gone,” “Tell Me Why,” “Fool For Love.”

For a debut, though, Southside strikes a definite tone and character throughout, and it’s not a bad listen if you’re in the mood. “Prayer For You” makes use of a forceful acoustic strum and some background electric solos, set to Spiteri’s soulful vocals, while the strident “One Choice” is driven by the drums, with low-key singing and brief guitar strums filling the space.

Most of the songs have solid melodies, are well-written, and free of pretension. Although rare for an ‘80s pop CD, the production sparkles and does not date this at all; it could have been recorded in 2012. Some have compared Texas to the Cowboy Junkies, but they hardly reach that level of introspection, and toward the end the songs tend to run together a bit without much variation in the sound.

Still, for those who enjoy low-key bluesy pop with a touch of country, and a dash of slide guitar work to boot, Southside is a fine listen and an underrated gem from a band that really should have had more success in its titular state.

Rating: B-

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© 2005 Benjamin Ray 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 Mercury, and is used for informational purposes only.