Bill Kirchen

Have Love, Will Travel – 1996 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

CDs by Bill Kirchen

If the Age of Aquarius had lasted more than one lovely summer, if rockabilly had ever done more than flash repeatedly in the pan and zydeco was more than a regional phenomenon, then Bill Kirchen would be the Elvis of the '90's. Pick a genre, then sit back and let Kirchen show you how it should be done. Like big-band Shelby Lynne-style country? Check out "Swing Fever." Maybe the rambling early Buck-and-Merle Bakersfield sound is more your style? Go with "I Heard the Highway." If you miss the bass-heavy truck-driving-as-metaphor-for-life story songs, "Womb to the Tomb" will take you happily back. Kirchen has obviously assimilated all these influences and more - including, as evidenced by the title, some '60's sensibility - but he doesn't sound like anybody else. Being true to your muse may be the commercial kiss of death these days, but nobody since Tony Joe White has brought as much funk and as much soul to country, and for that alone Kirchen deserves sainthood.