Under the Table and Above the Sun
First Appeared at The Music Box, August 2003, Volume 10, #8
Written by John Metzger
The liner notes to Under the Table & Above the Sun, Reckless Kellyís debut for Sugar Hill Records, begin like this:
The Problem: Pre-teen, pre-packaged, pretentious, industry-driven, corporate sponsored, tasteless, soulless, cyborg, music that surrounds our lives and crowds our ears. There is no escape. And no one is to blame. Radio says, "Itís the record companies." Record companies point the same accusing finger at the sampling groups. Sampling groups? Please. Demographics? Stop.
The Solution: Music made by players. Lyrics written by poets. Songs that split atoms. Sounds that still shake the rafters long after last call.
Itís bold statement that sets the stakes high. A look at who wrote it ó Robert Earl Keen ó raises the bar even higher.
While Under the Table & Above the Sun isnít groundbreaking enough to save the future of music, it is a fine album, nonetheless, living up to the hype within Keenís lavish words of praise. Throughout the outing, the group, led by brothers Cody and Willy Braun, incorporates a vast array of sounds ó banjo, bouzouki, sitar, dobro, piano, and a variety of guitars, mandolins, and percussion instruments ó to form an intriguing sonic landscape. The lyrics are first-rate musings on life, love, outlaws, girlfriends, and The Beatles, and the melodies are infectious enough to draw in the listener, but not so contagious as to wear out their welcome all that quickly ó if at all.
Ironically, Under the Table & Above the Sunís biggest downfall, however, is also what makes it such an enjoyable suite of songs. Itís not entirely original, but its pilfered atmospheres are replicated perfectly under the guiding hand of Ray Kennedy, who, of course, is one-half of the twangtrust ó the production duo whose other half is none other than Steve Earle. Indeed, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Earle ought to be mighty pleased. Reckless Kelly does such a terrific job at appropriating his style that those not privy to knowing the name of the group that recorded the album might think itís some long lost outing from Earleís days as a country renegade. Thatís not a bad thing either, and Under the Table & Above the Sun clearly demonstrates without a doubt that Reckless Kelly is a band to watch because it will go far. In the meantime, sit back and enjoy because alt-country doesnít get much better than this.
Under the Table and Above the Sun is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box