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The Texas Gentlemen are a new ensemble to me, and in TX Jelly their debut album this band made up around the core quintet of Beau Bedford, Nik Lee, Daniel Creamer, Matt McDonald and Ryan Ake the boys recorded this cornerstone piece at FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The music reflects the varied players used, and eclectic tastes as blues, soul, folk, country, rock and gospel are illustrated. Rich in style, energy and good old fashioned straight off the cuff entertainment the 11-song recording sounds like it is live. Recorded over a 96-hour time span alongside another 17 songs that weren’t used, leader Beau Bedford (producer) over sees the music as a bunch of guests drop by; Paul Cauthen, Noah Jackson and Keite Young as vocalists. Lee does a great job on “Dream Along” (arguably the best vocal cut) and impress when Cauthen guests on “Gone”; here you have a strange mix as hints of old trucking and a jaunty happy go lucky feel establish part of what they are about. “My Way” is more sophisticated, and mellow as piano and harmony vocals see him home, or it is that way before the band, cleverly introduce a rockabilly-esque tone or two.
Of an eerie feel you have “Superstition”, and a dream-like feel as 1970-1980s pop filters through.Although it possesses a lasting feel it isn’t because I particularly like it. Likewise goes for the jam-like rock number, instrumental track “TX Jelly” as they throw everything into the melting pot. Albeit some of it does sound okay, and has grown on me after a number of plays. Next up you have heart-tugging ballad “Pretty Flowers”, written and performed by Dan Dyer (also see “Trading Paint”, and co-write with Cauthen “Gone”) on vocals it has traditional country written all over it. What a fantastic little honky tonk number it is too. Next up is an unexpected and fiery cover of Johnny Kidd & The Pirates 1960s hit “Shakin’ All Over” , and it contains some serious jamming by all and sundry. To close it is more from the excellent Dyer, and he doesn’t disappoint. This time he speaks of him not being a real hillbilly, and with some glorious harmony vocals and stripped down accompaniment the listener gets to sample, and enjoy a wondrous piece of storytelling. The lyrics speaks of how the character in the song drives an old Subaru, and the guy following too close is about to trade with him some paint. With song wry lyrics it speaks of how it pays to be polite when you are out on the road, because you just don’t know who might be driving that Subaru!
The Texas Gentlemen have backed a bunch of Texas based, and otherwise acts. With the loose association of guests coming and going and this in mind they found inspiration (and, or modelled themselves) on such combos as The Wrecking Crew, The Muscle Shoals Swampers, Booker T. and M.G’s and Bob Dylan’s one-time backing unit, The Band among others. It will be interesting to see where they go next; fans of the band already include those who have been backed by them as in Terry Allen, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Kris Kristofferson, Jack Ingram, Ray Benson and Texas singer-songwriter Joe Ely. Ely rates them as the best ever set of players that have accompanied him on stage. When it comes from Joe people tend to sit up and take notice, and check out what he's talking about.
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