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Music Review - `Til The Wheels Fall Off` by Bruce Smith Band (jh)

Bruce Smith Band -  Till The Wheels Fall Off  (click on image to watch video)

26 April 2019 

 

Austin, TX-based singer-songwriter Bruce Smith is at heart a vintage rock n’ roller. He and his band are back with their fifth studio album, the aptly titled ‘Til the Wheels Fall Off as in rocking until the wheels come off.  The Bruce Smith Band has been hailed by Austin’s top talent booker as “the fastest rising star in Austin since Los Lonely Boys.” Even though Smith is originally from Detroit, he’s mastered the indigenous Texas styles of Conjunto and Tejano and is about to sing with Hacienda Records, the major label promoting those genres.

Key to this momentum is the success of the single from this album, “59 Stratocaster.” The song recounts a visit Smith and his wife took to the Buddy Holly Museum where he saw the last guitar that the legend ever played. Smith says, “It’s about the guitar being on the bus, and going to the next gig when her master won’t be there.” It is infused with Holly’s spirit, so much so that Hollywood took notice and will soon be featuring it in a documentary and romantic comedy inspired by Holly.

Smith, like Holly, certainly comes off as a natural rock n’ roller. We hear it on the opening “30 Days,” the title track, about relentless hope and ambition,  and then on “59 Stratocaster” where he reprises some lines about the wheels on the bus. That’s only the first three tracks. The shuffling “Longbranch Inn” recalls the time when a few of the band members met at J.T. Van Zandt’s Longbranch Inn open mic night. The radio-friendly “Cowboy Up” brings the requisite twang, complete with Johnny Cash type guitars.

The band brings the needed temp change in the ballad “Elizabeth and Spring.” “Time Is Ours” introduces Tex-Mex textures with the accordion and is carried further on “Terry the Texas Tornado.” The Texas dancehall grows even stronger on “Amanda and the Commander,” perhaps an ode to Commander Cody while one can’t help but think of Joe Ely’s “She Never Spoke Spanish to Me” in Smith’s “She Laughs in Spanish.”

Besides frontman and vocalist Smith the band retains core members Spencer Jarmon (lead guitar) and Grammy Award winner Randy Caballero (keyboards) for this date.  They are joined by Bryan Austin (drums), Matt Hubbard (keys, trombone, accordion, harmonica, melodica), Will Landin (bass), Greg White (rhythm and lead) and vocalists Shaniqua Williams and Danny Chaffin. The album was recorded at SG Studios in Ft. Worth. Greg White did the initial recording, engineering, mixing and mastering. Caballero came in later and re-recorded, remixed and remastered parts of the album working in tandem with White.

This is mostly a flat out, rocking album in the roll-down-the-windows-and-let-the-wind-blow back-your-hair mode. Or, as Smith’s title song says, “rockin’ ‘til the wheels fall off, come hell or high water.” Let it rip and enjoy an exhilarating ride.

 

Jim Hynes

 

 

Jim Hynes is an independent contributor on music for several magazines, including Elmore and Country Standard Time. He has also written for Variety. He was a listener-supported public station(s) radio host for 25 years in CT, MI, NJ and PA. He is also a Live music host/Emcee at several national and regional venues.

To Read All of Jim's Reviews, Click Here

 

 


 

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