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Album Review

Those who were looking for an exciting new creative direction from Rex Hobart & the Misery Boys on their fourth album for Bloodshot, Empty House, are going to be fresh out of luck when they slap this into their CD players. And of course, it serves 'em right — Hobart is a honky tonk man through and through and he respects his form, as does any worthwhile musician. Empty House is 100 proof country music in the manner of Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and Faron Young, and like a bottle of good bourbon this music has a way of soothing your heartache and reminding you of whoever it was who broke your heart at the same time. With this in mind, Hobart and his partners have the sense not to try to reinvent the wheel — they just try to put a fine set of tires on it and let it roll, and Empty House is the honky tonk equivalent of a fresh set of steel-belted radials. Hobart writes songs in the classic style without simply following the path blazed by others, and his band plays with heart, soul, and concision that bring a freshness and emotional currency to songs like "The Good Ain't Gone," "I Don't Like That Mirror," and "Let's Leave Me." Just as there are tens of thousands of compelling stories you can tell within the framework of 12-bar blues, Rex Hobart understands just how many different ways a heart can be broken, and that a good honky tonk songwriter can find a great song in each of them; that's just what he does on Empty House, and damned if he doesn't satisfy on all 11 cuts.

Empty House, Rex Hobart & The Misery Boys
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