Straight out of the starting blocks with a cowpunk blast - 'Moonshine Guy' - Jason and the Scorchers instantly get your attention. It's catchy, it grabs you and shakes you around by the lapels for a bit, throws an arm around your shoulders and drunkenly yells in your ears about this guy who's a stereotypical "my way or the high way" redneck and you're left puzzled - were they just telling you what a great guy he is?- or did they mean something quite the opposite? Well, too late to ask now, they're moving off down the bar leaving you thinking you're in for the best part of an hour of being buffeted around.
If you have ever had the pleasure of catching Jason Ringenberg and co live, then you will most definitely have became a fan of these guys there and then. Their live shows are the stuff of legend, so trying to replicate that sheer energy and majesty on record was never going to be an easy thing but they certainly prove they can with this ramshackle beauty of an album.
The music is country infused with rock, punk, bluegrass and blues that the band has built its reputation on for the past 30 years. The Scorchers paved the way for the likes of Wilco, The Jayhawks and Matthew Sweet to enter the mainstream. Their legacy is indeed great, but as this album proves, the future is looking just as exciting.
It's been over a decade since they last released a record together and tastes have changed, but these guys never cared about being in fashion or hip. They just made good music and that is something that has not changed. Album opener Moonshine Guys is a full frontal slice of cow-punk that is packed with self deprecating humour and exudes fun. If your feet ain't tapping there is something wrong with you. The rockin' continues with Mona Lee, sounding like Status Quo playing country (it's better than it sounds) and features some mighty fine guitar licks. We see a more tender side of the band on Mother of Greed, a possible contender for stand out track, with the lyrics an eloquent social commentary that rings true as much today as it did 50 years ago.
There are some seriously good songs on here. Land of the Free rocks out like Pearl Jam covering Lynard Skynard and is sure to become a live fav. Deep Holy Water is a dirty blues fueled stomper that wouldn't sound out of place on an AC/DC album while Better Than This is classic Scorchers. Of the 14 tracks on here you won't have to reach for the skip button once. The repeat button... certainly.
You could say that Mr Ringenberg and the guys are back to their best. You could say that but I don't think they have sounded as good on record as they do here. Welcome back... we've missed you.