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Confederate Railroad

Lucky to Be Alive – 2016 (BFD)

Reviewed by Andrew Greenhalgh

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In today's politically correct, skinny jean wearing, metrosexual, and all too often, emasculated world of country music, it's refreshing to run once again into a band like Confederate Railroad. With a name that in itself will cause heads to turn today, the Railroad reemerges into a musical landscape much different from their original heyday. And while the band itself has changed a bit, adding members and losing others while growing older, they haven't given up on the foundation of their success.

The band's reticence to give in to popular trends is evident throughout. From the bluesy tones of the title track, feeling like a classic Travis Tritt number with its simmering electric guitar runs and near growled vocals, to "Played the Game," which sounds like a Waylon Jennings B-side with its resonant, toe-tapping beat and steel guitar swells. "The Man I Am Today" follows suit with a classic country flavored arrangement and a lyric of love and loss and a decidedly politically incorrect wink and nod to close out the track.

"Trashy Women - 20th Anniversary" finds the band reimagining their hit of 20-plus years with help from Willie Nelson, former football coach Jerry Glanville, John Anderson and Colt Ford with proceeds from the single going to charity while "Goodbye Song" is a scintillating rock-tinged kiss off that really stings. Feeling like an old friend, "Whiskey and Women" rolls in with a familiar swagger, offering up sage wisdom before "Fast Cars and Guitars" puts the pedal to the metal and the band lets it all hang out, reestablishing their country cred with a full-fledged musical assault and great lines like "My baby blanket was a rebel flag/I'm from Dixie and on that I'll brag." Likewise, "Psycho Bitch" is just a bit of playful fun, the live feel of the track lending it some extra swagger.

Perhaps most surprising are the more subdued tracks. "If I Ever Cross That Line" is a song that oozes painful emotion as it deals with temptation and faithfulness, inspired by lead singer Danny Shirley's experiences during his divorce. Equally poignant is the mid-tempo "Somebody Like You," which transparently asks, "How could somebody like you/Love somebody like me?" And taking a full step away from their traditional sound, the band taps into rich bluegrass roots with the assistance of great players like Dan Tyminski, Roy Curry and Tim Austin on "Don't Feel As Young As I Used To" for a pitch perfect ride.

Older, wiser, but still with plenty of gusto, Confederate Railroad show that they've still got what it takes on "Lucky To Be Alive." Filled with riffs on classic country, blues, rock and more, this old Railroad shows that in this whirlwind world of jumbo jets, taking a ride on the rails can be just as satisfying, if not more.