Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
This is one groovy, bittersweet album. This is the posthumous release of Chris Porter, who was killed in a car accident on October 21, 2016. Full of full frontal country music with a huge dose of southern rock and boogie woogie. There is a whole lotta rockin’ going on, courtesy of Porter & Company. this is a great album and there are two instances of “I can’t believes” on this album: 1) I can’t believe how outrageously good it is 2) I can’t believe that they 13 words and and ampersand on the front cover of the album. They completed both feats at the highest level.
The recording credits are a veritable “who’s who”. You got—Will Johnson (Centro-Matic, South San Gabriel, Monsters of Folk) behind the drums, and acting as producer, Shonna Tucker (Drive By Truckers, Eye Candy, Pegi Young) on bass and backing vocals, John Calvin Abney (John Moreland, Samantha Crain, Solo) behind the guitar, steel, synth, and harmonica, Chris Masterson on guitar, and Eleanor Whitmore on violin. That is quite a group of high powered players, including Chris Porter on guitar and vocals.
I think the song that comes closest to really capturing the embodiment of southern rock is Stoned In Traffic (Track 8). While the subject matter seems a bit mundane and routine (for some folks), this song is very well written and is a cross between Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Replacements. Plenty of ass kicking guitar ala Skynyrd, and plenty of cynical and humorous lyrics ala The Replacements. Again, the guitars on this song are completely raucous and flawless.
It isn’t all about the noise, Porter & The Bluebonnet Rattlesnakes can also do justice to a country song complete with twang, dark lyrics, and superb backing vocals. All those components, and more, are on Shit Got Dark (Track 7). You can tell by the title that this isn’t going to be a happy number. “Shit Got Dark” is never an expression one would utter after an event that was went perfectly. Great harmonica that ties the entire song together.
This is not a narrow minded recording. There are also sighting of some funk and jazz. They were spotted on War Paint (Track 3). This number starts off with a very infectious drum solo that is catchy as hell. Then, it immediately slithers into a great electric guitar part. The song composition is wonderful. There is nothing I would change. I almost always think to myself things that I would change on certain recordings. I honestly cannot think of anything I would change on this song, or any of the songs on this album. There is an old adage—“Don’t dick with perfection”. And no one did.
Certainly, the fact that no one will be able to hear these songs performed by their creator is disheartening and sad. However, the album is the next best thing to being there, and that means Chris will live forever. And it is warranted for many reasons, most notably is this album which is one of the best in recent times.