After stints in two prior bands, Billy K has surrounded himself with the right likeminded musicians to bring his anecdotal, prototype Country to fans. True in the vein of contemporary Nashville, the band has released Outrun The Rain–11-tracks of archetypical honky stomp tunes laced with the occasional down tempo Country ballad.[youtube 1ZrRMZLPedE]
The album opens with “Shoot Me At The Juke Box” and its bent note electric, banjo picking and standard Country instrumentation. Foreshadowing the tracks to follow, the real highlight of the Billy K Band is the vocally driven ethos of the tracks. Billy K sings with just the right amount of twang to lend honesty to the songs without sounding contrived. Title track “Outrun The Rain” changes the album tempo with its slowed balladesque pace. Instrumentation takes a slight retreat through the verses, allowing the foreground for the vocals and their lyrical message. Backing organ, time-keeping percussion and electric finger work bolster this one. “Enjoy The Ride” is, in essence, a love song only country fried. Lyrically, the story of “man meets his match” is told through lyrics that are clever, not campy (as much of contemporary Country tends to do). Banjo reappears along with more ubiquitous electric slide work, crafting this into a sure radio friendly single. Finally, if Jimmy Buffet wrote Country tunes it would sound a lot like “Semi-Retired.” Piano, strings and Country-electric-straddling-Blues notes are the backing instrumentation in another clever, anecdotal story-song.
I would posit that the Billy K Band could hold their own with anything coming out of Nashville these days. Good solid songwriting, strong instrumentation and tight technical production are the hallmarks of what is a rather respectable first outing. With the album having been released in April, this one needs to be put on the radar of Country fans as I suspect it is only beginning to gain momentum. It is well noted that this writer has a deep ambivalence for contemporary Country Music, but it would be a lie if I didn’t say I was impressed with what is simply, a really good set of Country tunes.
by Chris West – firstname.lastname@example.org