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Never Make It Home

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Album Review

The high-speed, nearly reckless playing and themes of murder and booze are still there, but Never Make It Home also finds Split Lip Rayfield evolving to a more mature, complex approach that calls to mind the late-'60s rock/bluegrass alliance between Dillard & Clark. The heart-worn "Record Shop," with its gorgeously mournful harmonies, particularly calls to mind the songcraft of the legendary Gene Clark. Nevertheless, Split Lip Rayfield stays ornery enough to spark the adrenaline. On "Dime Store Cowboy," for instance, the group, while taking aim at L.A.-type cowboys, wields enough venom for a whole Wu-Tang Clan: "Don't say you're my friend/Hell, if you say it again/I'm gonna come at you with my fist, cocked gun in my boot/Dime store cowboy, you look so good/Bet you run at the first sign of trouble in Hollywood." This album is a tangible leap forward for a group that is fueled by equal parts punk energy and bluegrass musicianship.


Formed: Wichita, KS

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The Kansas-based post-punk progressive bluegrass outfit Split Lip Rayfield was comprised of vocalist/banjoist David Lawrence, guitarist/dobroist Kirk Rundstrom, and one-string bassist Jeff Eaton, whose instrument was fashioned from the gas tank of a 1965 Ford. An outgrowth of the group Scroat Belly (though it didn't take long for them to outlive the band that spawned them), the trio debuted in 1998 with a self-titled LP issued on the Bloodshot label. In the Mud followed a year later; by this time,...
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Never Make It Home, Split Lip Rayfield
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