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Heybale

The Last Country Album – 2008 (Shuffle5)

Reviewed by Brian Steinberg

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CDs by Heybale

If you like your country music old-school, chances you'll go for a roll in HeyBale, which is made up of musical vets and a few promising newcomers. Earl Poole Ball is here, the piano player who has toured with Buck Owens and The Byrds, and so is Redd Volkaert, the guitarist who has shared a stage with Dale Watson and Merle Haggard. But so is Gary Claxton, a relative unknown whose country croon goes down nice n' neat.

The group sings their own songs and covers stuff by Willie Nelson ("Mr. Record Man") and Tom T. Hall ("That's How I Got To Memphis"). And while it's nice to hear honest music put across without many pyrotechnics, HeyBale's stuff might be just a little too, well, pleasant for modern ears. There's not a lot of grit or tension in the songs, just an aw-shucks good time. There's nothing wrong with that, but it won't catapult this group out of bar-band status or into bigger leagues.