Reckless Kelly: Wicked Twisted Road

Nevertheless, on its 13 tracks, Wicked Twisted Road exhibits exhilarating range. Reckless Kelly: Wicked Twisted Road (Sugar Hill Records)
Because a tiny red die chatters in the gutter behind its spine and its booklet unfolds into a board game like Candy Land gone Animal House, Wicked Twisted Road, the fifth CD from Reckless Kelly, suggests an inventiveness lacking in too many releases nowadays. The memorable whimsy of the disc’s packaging would dwindle into inconsequentiality, of course, if the quintet in question made forgettable music. Happily, they don’t—quite the opposite, in fact.

Reckless Kelly hails from Austin and comprises guitarist David Abeyta, multi-instrumentalists Cody and Willy Braun, drummer Jay Nazz, and bassist Jimmy McFeeley, with the latter Braun brother also serving as lead vocalist. God alone knows why they named themselves after Australian Ned Kelly, the outlaw who roamed in homemade armor in the latter half of the 1800s—nary a didgeridoo graces the disc under review. Nevertheless, on its 13 tracks, Wicked Twisted Road exhibits exhilarating range. The Pogues at their peak, for instance, would have had difficulty matching the bibulous verve and sly wit of “Seven Nights in Eire,” which opens with the lament of a fiddle and the jangle of a tambourine and closes with the piping of a pennywhistle, and other tracks, like the mordant love songs “Nobody Haunts Me Like You” and “Wretched Again,” bolster longstanding comparisons of Reckless Kelly to early Steve Earle. “Motel Cowboy Show,” meanwhile, pays propulsive yet poignant tribute to party-hearty honky-tonking, and past a revving engine and squealing whitewalls, “Sixgun” takes listeners on a narrative journey that starts with armed robbery and roars along like a getaway car: “Sadie got a sixgun, she ain’t afraid to use it/The banker took us straight down to the safe and I blew it.”

All things considered, then, on the highways and byways of modern music, Reckless Kelly’s Wicked Twisted Road puts the pedal to the metal—give it a test drive.

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