Wibaux guitarist Jim Devine (aka Mighty Big Jim) leads his usual cadre of music-makers on their second album, made up of original, rough-hewn roots-rock. Besides Devine on vocals and guitar, the expert crew includes Casey Malkuch, guitar, harmonica and vocals; John Redlin, bass; and married couple Jayson Eslick, drums and percussion, and Katelynne Eslick, vocals. Steve Williams guests on keyboards.
Devine’s stamp is on the songs, some co-written with other band members. Influences like the Allman Brothers and Springsteen infuse the material. It’s driven by FX-laden guitar salvos between verses that punctuate growly vocals.
”When You Come Around” opens with animated drums and bass; soon guitars crank up, munching raucous chords as Devine sings about a woman he’s smitten with. Katelynne Eslick’s harmony vocals tightly mesh with Devine’s lead.
Devine’s “Play Me Some Petty” is an easy-going tribute to the late Tom Petty, another inspiration. It’s got interesting chord progressions, and Katelynne sings on the pretty chorus.
The bass shines on the hard rockin’ “Find My Way to You,” with its fuzzed-up guitars and impeccable drum beats. This raucous jammer is heavy on instrumental work and sports a nifty ending.
Mysterious atmosphere surrounds “Mendocino Girl”; in it, our protagonist is mesmerized by a woman on the prowl. “She’s animal crackers and beer,” he sings, amid spooky minor chords and twangy guitar.
Katelynne takes the lead on “Take My Pain Away,” singing over wailin’ guitars. Cool chorus here! The rock-steady “Just Take a Picture” has a world-weary front man singing about the loneliness of long nights on the road.
Mighty Big Jim and the Tall Boys mess with tempos, too, thanks to killer drums by Jayson Eslick. “Diamonds and Tears” has amped-up guitars and a quirky, intensifying beat. Lots of dancers and some belt-buckle shiners here – rock out with these folks!
– Mariss McTucker