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Brian Wright

Rattle Their Chains – 2013 (Sugar Hill)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Brian Wright

Brian Wright isn't exactly what one would refer to as a revered veteran, but he still manages to purvey a somewhat weathered perspective. On "Rattle Their Chains," his second album for the Sugar Hill label and fourth overall, he takes in a commanding view of traditional Americana, sounding a stoic troubadour who's travelled the heartland for more years than he'd care to remember. That assertive stance may belie his modest trajectory, but it also projects a savvy that's come to him rather quickly.

Indeed, Wright carries with him an air of authenticity, without having to sound either forced or insincere. The swampy tangle of Over Yet Blues projects an unmistakeable command and confidence, while also establishing a clear commitment to his craft. The track that follows, the staunch, steady and assertive We Don't Live There, doubles down on that impression, an apt lead-in to the weary reflection imbued in brooding ballads like Red Rooster Social Club, Haunted and Weird Winter. Still, Wright manages to squelch his remorse and assert an authoritative presence regardless. The boozy sway of The Good Dead Queen, with its Dixieland dazzle, and the cocky strut that drives Face of the Earth provide the album with a lighter touch, allowing a welcome respite from the otherwise somber suggestion.

"Rattle Their Chains" doesn't exactly shake things up like its title implies, especially given the like-minded competition that's out there wooing the heartland these days. Still, Wright makes a good impression, one that bodes well for the future.