Vintage Guitar - January 2018 - open - 108

HIT LIST

R E V I E W S

Alex Williams

John Moreland
Big Bad Luv

Alex Williams

Better Than Myself

GUITARSLINGING HAT ACTS

T

he world boasts a wealth
of modern-country hat acts
these days, but real country songwriters/guitarslingers
with a hat and something to
say? Not so much. Enter John
Moreland, whose latest album
is released by punk-rock label
4AD - which is maybe what
country needs.
Moreland wears a truckerstyle cap, plays some stylish
guitar, and can write the hell
out of a song - 11 of them
here, to be exact. His tunes
bristle with hard-edged, baredsoul images earned walking the
narrow gravel road between
damnation and salvation. And
whether it's his own acoustic

and electric guitar or the keyboards of John Calvin Abney
echoing his laments, each
song is a minor masterpiece.
"Sallisaw Blue" opens the
set with layers of Moreland's
guitar driving the countryblues beat past the "neon
sign that says 'big bad love.'"
In "Old Wounds," you can
feel the hurt, even from afar.
"Amen, So Be It" is a resigned,
world-weary slow rocker.
Much of Moreland's guitar
playing - as well as the Dobro
of Jared Tyler and pedal steel
of Travis Linville - is understated. There are no massive,
face-contorting solos here;
it's almost all accompaniment

VINTAGE GUITAR

and accents to the greater
glory of the song. And the
results are gracious alt-country
tunes of hurt and heartbreak
and the life thereafter.
Alex Williams wears a
brimmed cap, too - but it's
more likely to be announcing
his fave beer brand of the
month. He's a modern-day
Waylon, pure alt-country
outlaw with a guitar case
full of good-times songs,
many of them hitting hard on
the theme of that old bottle
never letting him down.
On the opposite side of the
coin from Moreland, Williams'
band is big and brash in all
the best ways. Williams' own

108

January 2018

rhythm guitar is powered by
that lovely, lustrous Phasermodulated sound that Jennings
loved, an instant signature
statement here of purpose.
Behind him, there's plenty of
twangy guitars dueling with
pedal steel, raucous solos,
and good times. Dan Dugmore
plays the steel and Dobro; Tom
Bukovac and J.T. Corenflos
hold down guitar duties.
His show-opener "Hellbent
Hallelujah" speaks loud and
proud like his own trademark
anthem. The song is rowdy
and rorty, and Williams doesn't
care who knows it. Other
tunes are devoted to the art of
drinking as well as flying your
own "Freak Flag." And as with
Moreland, they're all originals;
both cats have a lot to say.
If you've had it with modern
bro-with-pickup-truck hat
acts, give a tip of your brim to
these two ball-capped guitarslingers. - Michael Dregni


http://youtu.be/6NC-7UDrVuk http://youtu.be/f8thx99x_04 http://youtu.be/nDti43Risrw http://www.vintageguitar.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - January 2018 - open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - January 2018 - open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - January 2018 - open - IFC
Vintage Guitar - January 2018 - open - 3
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