The Reverend Horton Heat changed my life. It was Throwrag front man Sean who introduced me to the gospel, passing along a copy of Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em sometime in the early '90s. My life was a mess back then, but from that moment, my soul's constant thirst has been continually quenched by the Good Reverend. His rowdy Texas punkabilly left me wondering how I could have lived as long as I had without hearing it. His newest, Spend a Night in the Box, sends those same familiar streaks of bliss through my bones, making me dance around and remember when I could catch the Reverend at small clubs, feet flying through the air, clinking the bar lights fantastic. The title track is an homage to the old outlaw movie Cool Hand Luke. Seems the Reverend has been having some mishaps with his lady: "My flappin' tongue has sealed my fate/What we've got here is a failure to communicate." Girlfriends and prison wardens—the similarities are eerie! Strangely, the band has cut back on drinking songs—only six deal with the bottled demon this time around. The Reverend's muse even contemplates going on the wagon for a spell: "I'm going to sue Jack Daniels for hittin' me/With the trunk of a big old live oak tree." Personal responsibility is not as interesting or funny—but then he's "Gonna take that money and go do it all over again." Me, too! No fancy studio panache here, just straight-up, boisterous, heel-clickin', hip-swayin' music laced with scorching guitar licks and blistery slap-bass. Say amen, somebody! (Arrissia Owen)
THE TROUBLE WITH POETS
BLACK WALNUT RECORDS
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Peter Mulvey once described folk singers as the sort of people who would "push each other in front of a bus for a chance to sing about man's inhumanity to man." It's that sort of glib honesty that makes him such an awesome songwriter. Despite his protestation that "the trouble with poets is they talk too much," Mulvey has a poet's sense of lyricism and imagery. Sometimes the songs that manifest from his vision are heart-rendingly beautiful, like in "Tender Blindspot," in which he sings, "Her breath hangs glowing in the air/She's standing at the car with the key in her hand/Like a sleeper coming back from somewhere." Other songs are laced with venom and outrage, like in "Bright Idea," in which he tears into the culture of conformity. Certainly Mulvey is a songwriter to be reckoned with, and it doesn't hurt that he's got an amazingly expressive and soulful bass voice and a spellbinding guitarist who alternates effortlessly among folk, funk and blues styles. But the best things about Mulvey are that he's respectful enough of his roots to put an old Fats Waller tune on his album and do it justice, and he's not so blinded by his tours with the likes of Emmylou Harris and 10,000 Maniacs to play in the Boston subway system every time he's in town. Now that's a folk singer. (Victor D. Infante)