Tangled in the Pines
First Appeared at The Music Box, April 2004, Volume 11, #4
Written by T.J. Simon
As a general rule, when a lead singer departs, the responsible move for remaining band members is to pack up shop and walk away from the enterprise. Thereís an air of fraud and desperation when groups hire imitators in an effort to keep the magic alive (see 10,000 Maniacs or Creedence Clearwater Revisited). So, when news hit that BR549ís primary lead vocalist Gary Bennett along with the charismatic bass player Smiliní Jay McDowell had left the ensemble, many thought it was the end of a Nashville retro-country institution. Surprisingly, the band realigned itself by handing the reigns over to Chuck Mead, who had always served as BR549ís secondary singer. A new hire named Chris Scruggs stepped in as the second banana vocalist, and Geoff Firebaugh was added as the new bass player for the collectiveís satisfying new album Tangled in the Pines.
The transition into the new BR549 line-up is relatively seamless largely because Meadís voice has always been associated with BR549ís sound. Interestingly, Tangled in the Pines is BR549ís first album of all original material, yet the sound retains the classic honky-tonk flavor that fans have come to expect. The best of the bunch is the Johnny Cash-ish No Train to Memphis and the NRBQ-ish Ainít Got Time. As with all BR549 outings, the fiddle from multi-instrumentalist stalwart Don Herron is nothing short of spectacular, particularly on the albumís likable title track. The disc closes with Way too Late (to Go Home Early Now), a good-rockiní barn-burner in the tradition of Commander Cody and The Lost Planet Airmen. Although Tangled in the Pines wonít catapult BR549 into countryís mainstream, it wonít leave loyal fans feeling betrayed either. Ĺ
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box