Journeyman’s Wager CD - Thirty Tigers
Not among the first acts to revive authentic country sounds, trading especially in a rowdy honky-tonk, but one of the more retro and respected to come along in the mid-1990s, BR5-49 called it quits in 2006, following a half-decade period of fallow recordings. Their lead guitarist and vocalist, Chuck Mead, now has a solo album out. Journeyman’s Wager may not be the comeback album of BR5-49 (isn’t, actually), but it’s Mead caught in a pretty engaging moment, which says a lot for the main man of those early BR5-49 albums.
On Journeyman’s Wager, pretty much gone are those surprisingly lackluster and poppy Beatles paeans of 2001’s This Is BR549, and the oddly watered-down roots of swansong Dog Days. Rather, what Mead dishes up here is a dance-inducing hybrid of that old honky-tonk, rockabilly, and every-man bar band swagger. The album’s rootsy ballads and electrified country blues numbers also display the kind of knowing humor Mead was known for in what he wrote for his former band. Check out the sly sour grapes of “She Got the Ring (I Got the Finger),” and “I Wish It Was Friday,” a rousing country-rock boogie where even a beleaguered Superman and weary Jesus long for a 48 hour slice of living life in peace.
In short, this album is a journeyman musician’s eye-winking tour through the styles he loves, seemingly a sure bet on some nice returns.
By Michael Meade