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Hillbilly Idol

Hillybilly Idol – 2002 (Slewfoot)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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This self-titled follow up to Hillbilly Idol's impressive 1998 debut "Town and Country" has the Cleveland band still doing some of the best traditional country around today.

Though primarily known as a honky tonk band other influences are apparent as well. The honky tonk roots are on display in the opening track "Smack Dab In The Middle Of Love" and Charlie and Ira Louvin's "She Didn't Even Know I Was Gone," on which the harmonies of Paul Kovac and Dave Huddleston recall those of the Louvins or Buck Owens and Don Rich.

The influence of modern bluegrass is also very much in evidence on "Dixie Highway Home" (one of eight tunes composed by steel guitarist Al Moss) and a coverof Tim O'Brien's "Late In The Day." Bluegrass luminary Laurie Lewis joins Kovac with a duet on Moss' tune "Between Here And Heaven And Gone." Other styles tackled are rockabilly ("Hurt Heart Broke") and swing ("One Step Forward"). The musicianship is excellent throughout with Moss shining on steel, Kovac on mandolin and banjo, Huddleston on lead guitar, along with bassist Bill Watson and drummer Scott Flowers.

Hillbilly Idol's latest is even better than their '98 debut as the band augments their traditional sound with the best elements of modern country and bluegrass.