The debut from the singularly-named Cisco and his group The Reasons Why finds them following the modern West Coast honky tonk trail blazed by Dwight Yoakam. And coincidentally or otherwise, long-time fellow-travellers of Yoakam and/or alter ego Pete Anderson are all over this album. The similarities extend from music to attitude, but whereas Yoakam sometimes flirts with the line separating intensity from bombast, this may leave the listener feeling that Cisco has crossed that line. In the end, what saves (or redeems) Yoakam are his songs, but on this count, sad to say, Cisco is no Dwight.
There are some sturdy tunes here to be sure. "I Hope Tomorrow Comes Real Soon" ("... because I sure messed up today") builds on the foundation provided by that double-sided line, while "30 Years Crazy" eloquently expresses the pain and bewilderment of the one left behind ("didn't think you'd leave me for what I ain't/or what I am"). But there's an equal measure of songwriting that's by turns lazy or trite, and that fact makes this collection less than it could have been.
Still and all, these are great sounding songs, rendered by Cisco's low- riding vocals, the high-test playing of his band (guitarist Chris Lawrence calls to mind the sturm und twang of the aforementioned Anderson and of Shaver the younger, and seems capable of standing with both), and the sympathetic production of Social Distortion's Mike Ness. (Propellant Transmissions, Box 2297, Redondo Beach, CA 90278)