Crunchy, classy Southern-rock with added brass.
‘Tornillo’ represents the sixth album from Texas six-piece Whiskey Myers, and there has been a steady progression of sales and audience through those releases, until now, when their records are guaranteed to go top 10 on the US country music chart. Although bigger is not always better, in this instance, the confidence in their musicianship has also grown exponentially, and on ‘Tornillo’, there is a further step up from their previous releases, with the introduction of a sassy horn section and a refinement of their songwriting chops – no room here for the occasional lazy lyrical tropes which could be heard on earlier records. This is a collection which is lean and sinuous at every level.
It is uproarious fare, made to be played at volume, whether on a car stereo or through the PA at the larger auditoriums they now command. Guitars crunch and strain, the rhythm section is locked in tight, while Cody Cannon’s lead vocals have just the right amount of grit and holler in them. Backing vocals from gospel quartet, The McRary Sisters are used to great effect, too, bolstering songs with some southern soul to go along with classic rock echoes from the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd, Little Feat and even the Stones in their 1968-72 pomp.
There is a consistency of songwriting here, and it really is a party from start to finish. The title track, the briefest of opening songs, features a mariachi instrumental that acts as a curtain raiser to the headlong rush of what follows, commencing with the infectiously chorus-driven ‘John Wayne’. ‘Feets’ and ‘Bad Medicine’ both have an irresistible groove under them, while ‘Mission to Mars’ and ‘Whole World Gone Crazy’ move into vaguely political territory, although not overly so, and neither forget to bring the power and noise. ‘For the Kids’ and ‘Heavy On Me’ allow some rumination and more delicacy in the playing to emerge (though even they build to a crescendo as the songs progress).
All in all, this is red-blooded music for hot summer nights. Play it loud and get the party started!