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A Good Life

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Album Review

Joe Grushecky writes like a regular guy for a good reason — he is one. While Grushecky has had a long career in rock & roll, including a brief flirtation with the major labels as frontman for the Iron City Houserockers, these days he earns his living as a schoolteacher and makes music on the side, which is doubtless why when he writes about the lives of working stiffs and ordinary Joes, the songs bear the ring of truth rather than a sense of condescension. A Good Life is Grushecky's tenth album since the breakup of the Houserockers, and it doesn't break much in the way of new ground, but that isn't a bad thing — this is solid and heartfelt rust belt rock & roll played and sung by a man who has been doing this stuff and making it stick for quite some time, and he still hasn't lost his passion for what he does. Grushecky also hasn't lost his knack as a songwriter — in fact, A Good Life is one of his strongest collections of new songs in years. Grushecky's tales of ordinary folks counting life's small blessings are smart and moving ("A Good Life," "Party Tonight"), he knows plenty about the uphill climb of life ("Code of Silence," "Searching for My Soul"), and his tale of a busted marriage ("The Other Shoe") sounds as honest as his story of a family that somehow held together ("Father and Son"). And while no one would ever peg Grushecky as a proud son of Louisiana, "Lake Pontchartrain" is a cry of pain and rage in the wake of Hurricane Katrina that sounds like he witnessed the tragedy up close and personal. Grushecky's work is good enough on A Good Life that the presence of friend, fan, and genuine rock star Bruce Springsteen on four songs doesn't steal the show away from him; A Good Life is another chapter in the ongoing story of an underrated rock & roll hero who may never become a household name but who keeps on doing his work as well as he can, and there's a message in that almost as important as any in the songs he writes.

Biography

Born: Pittsburgh, PA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Much like Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band or Southside Johnny & the Asbury Dukes, Joe Grushecky & the Houserockers have been making American blue-collar bar rock that draws on classic R&B from the 1970s on. Unlike his New Jersey counterparts, however, Grushecky calls the Iron City of Pittsburgh home. He has also never received the accolades or attention of his New Jersey counterparts. The group, which first emerged as the Iron City Houserockers, released their debut, Love's...
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A Good Life, Joe Grushecky
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