Review – Eleven Hundred Springs – Country Jam (Palo Duro Records)

Where can a self respecting upright, clean thinking country music fan find solace in this world of soulless corporate market-tested pop-country confection? I have the remedy right here friends.

Eleven Hundred Springs is THE best country band on the road today. That’s right, you heard me, THE BEST! I defy anyone to show me a band that exhibits even half of EHS’s passion and agility.

Their blend of trad but contemporary Western swing, honky-tonk and country rock speaks to the roots while it pushes the edge, and the band’s first release in four years (and after a band shuffle) “Country Jam” showcases those skills in spades.

You can almost feel the heat, smell the Tex-Mex combination platter, and taste the ice-cold cervezas as the album opener “Texas Afternoon” stretches out with a Tejano accordion and hints of West Texas artists Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Joe Ely. It’s a song that genuinely makes you want to smile.

The first single from the record, “Every Time I Get Close To You,” heads back out to the flat lands of West Texas to harken back Lubbock’s own Buddy Holly channeling his rave-up rockabilly style that once burned up the local sock hops.

“Nobody Told You About The Love” is a beautiful banjo and pedal steel woven reflection on fatherhood and love featuring lovely backing vocals from guest Heather Myles. “Whose Heart Are You Breaking Tonight” is a Western swing number. It’s smooth shuffle provided by drummer Mark Reznicek is sure to fill up boot-scooting dance floors for years to come and “I Never Crossed Your Mind” beautiful lament of heartache and “V-8 Ford Boogie” moves back into Rockabilly’s wrong side of the tracks will a pulsing “go-cat-go” sound right out of the Carl Perkins songbook.

The songs so seamlessly from style to style it belies the incredible dexterity being quietly exhibited and Matt Hillyer’s vocals are prefect for the songs with his ability to achieve longing and carefree hell raising with equal success. His writing is tight and effortless with nary a tired cliche in sight. Thankfully there are no obvious reaches for “the hook” that lead so many songs to trite repetition. The sincerity in each tune is solid , irony be damned.

The cover art merits Texas underground cred by featuring a psychedelic painting by legendary Austin artist/actor and Spicewood, TX. resident Kerry Awn. Locals might recognize Kerry’s unique style from the great graphics he did for the legendary Armadillo World Headquarters back in the 70’s.

Like the Greats, Bob Wills, Willie Nelson, this is hillbilly poetry at its finest. Hopefully the next release from this great band won’t take as long to get out.

Texas Afternoon(mp3)

Eleven Hundred Springs – You Can’t Hide From Your Heart – Denton, Texas


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