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Album Review

After a few albums as frontman of the group Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, Mark Stuart issued an album billed to Mark Stuart & the Bastard Sons, Bend in the Road. While the billing might have changed slightly, Stuart's focus remains roots country music. This is alt-country only in the sense that it's outside the commercial country mainstream, as the sound is rooted in classic country forms, particularly honky tonk. Stuart delivers solid stuff along those lines in both exuberant and world-weary veins, but also puts shades of old-timey folk, Western swing, rock, and Tex-Mex into his tunes. If the themes of many of the songs are pretty common to this sort of music — rambling restlessly on the road, heartache, and romantic crushes — Stuart delivers such goods reliably, though some of the uptempo songs are fairly similar to each other. That makes the reflective sad ballads "Gone Like a Raven" and "Carolina" more melodic standouts in the context of the record as a whole.

Bend In the Road, Mark Stuart And The Bastard Sons
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