Sweet Inspiration

Sweet Inspiration

There's little about the Hollisters that's truly original, but their smooth mix of classic country, rockabilly, southern rock, and a dash of folk-rock is indeed inspired. between Mike Barfield's fluttering baritone vocals and Eric Danheim's twanging, country-boogie guitar, the Houston quartet often sounds like a Johnny Cash tribute band, but they work endless variations on that sound, from the cajun-inflected "Fishin' Man" to the dieselbilly "Holes In The Road (Dumptruck)" to "The Last Picture Show," which embraces both the traditional country murder ballad and the fifties teen-death lament. "Sugarland" is a small gem, with a Gulf Coast undertow that's both laid-back and ominous, like those moments just before a storm rolls in. Barfield is all over the place, offering chiming, rolling folk-rock on the fade of "Sweet Inspiration" and bearing down hard on the grating lines of "Love Rustler." Barfield and Danheim write succinct, catchy songs, often about the doomed country drifter and hell-raiser stuck in his ways though he knows no good can come of them. Making the most out of a theoretically limited approach, the Hollisters come through with punch and pleasure. by John Morthland

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