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Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash

Walk Alone – 2001 (Ultimatum Music)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash

If The Blasters had been more influenced by pure country music rather than rockabillly, they're twisted honky tonk reverie might have resembled Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash. The San Diego quintet, who requested an audience with Cash to get his blessing to use his name, walks a deliberately fine line between rootsy contemporary Americana and twangy traditional country.

With elements of twangcore and Tex-Mex, like a mutant blending of the Old '97s and Los Lobos, BSOJC tear through a set of story songs written by acoustic guitarist Mark Stuart plus a ripping version of Dale Watson's "Truckstop in La Grange." There are plenty of highlights from the disc's opener "Texas Sun" to the driving rhythms of "Interstate Cannonball" to the country jaunt of "Seven Steps" to the dance floor-filling "Crying Over You."

Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash has a similar cowpunk feel as the late, lamentedRank and File, another Southern California country rock cross genre aggregation, while throwing in a little more Bakersfield, a little more twang and a little more soul.