Thursday, July 27, 2017

Russ Still and the Moonshiners - Still Cookin' (2017)

Written by Alonzo Evans, posted by blog admin

Authentic southern rock here from the south, Georgia to be exact!  Russ Still and the Moonshiners are a force to be reckoned with, serving up a hearty stew of groove, grit and rock n’ roll gravitas missing from the spotlight for a long, long time.  The album’s 9 tracks follow an arc of peaks and valleys thanks to diverse composition and jammed out instrumental passages.  If you’ve come to move, boogie n’ swing, you’re at the right watering hole. 

A rocking initiative is set thanks to “Promised Land,” a track full of tasty licks, winding lead guitar figures and a bustling groove laid-down by the rhythm section.  On an album of this type, you need a hot opener and this one is in-the-red yet plenty melodic thanks to Still’s power crooning and the way the band keeps things lush.  “Long Way from Home” kicks off in acoustic throes before heading to the backstreets of Nashville with a tuneful approach to riffs and the electric guitar.  This sounds like country radio back in the days when rap and pop hadn’t touched the genre just yet.  “Glorine’s” has strong interplay between the ultra-soulful lead vocals and the back-ups, almost calling to mind a rock-oriented version of “Lucille.”  The tune’s about a lady, so that could be the connection.  Grand piano and acoustic grace sets off the spark in “I Can’t,” a more downbeat number where the boundaries of balladry are pushed and exceeded.  There’s stellar singing throughout and the increase in volume in the second half gives it a nice climactic finish. 

“Goin’ Fishin’” is catchy if a bit standard issue by the lofty standards set thus far, so “Juanita” spices things up by incorporate bluegrass-y, amplified guitar licks with excellent melodies in the verses and chorus.  It’s probably the catchiest tune on the record and it also has the distinct honor of sounding the oldest (in terms of the decade that birthed it).  “10, 000 Ways” treads similar ground to “I Can’t” and comes out fine as a result even if a bit of repeat and “Workin’ Class Hunter” is all riffs though it could benefit from more emphasis on the leads.  Closer “Run Away” is a textbook country rocker that gives a Texaco hat tip to the innovators of the genre. 
Still Cookin’ is a timeless entry into the southern/country rock genre.  The band is tight but still developing its very own songwriting blend that comes off strong more often than not.  There are more than enough great tracks, plenty of good and only or two that could use a little more in the instrumentation department.  Overall, this is a solid second outing. 

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