And Friends – 2018 (Carlisle Beauregard)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Amigo

The second release from the Charlotte, N.C.-based trio Amigo is an entertaining mix of rock, folk and country. The album begins and ends with essentially the same song as the opening country rocker "The Big Idea" and closing newgrass-flavored ballad "Almost Something Good" share identical lyrics that work nicely with both arrangements.

The influence of The Byrds and Gram Parsons is evident in the psychedelic rocker "Own Trip Now" (featuring a scorching fuzz tone lead guitar solo by Eddie Garcia), while "Underground Medicine" and the cover of John Prine's "Everybody" recall the harder edge of The Blasters. Stronger tracks are the folk rockers "(When I Fool) You (Into) Loving Me (Again)" and "Bless Your Heart" reminiscent of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Other highlights are the country ballad "I Wanna Live" and the comically sentimental "Those Old Clothes We Liked Are Back In Style Again" ("The kids are cool/But kids are weird/I'm not convinced that they're sincere/And those old clothes we liked are back in style again").

Frontman Slade Baird (guitar, harmonica) wrote the nine originals and is nicely supported by bandmates Adam Phillips (percussion) and Thomas Alverson (bass). Produced and engineered by Mitch Easter (R.E.M., Let's Active) at his Fidelitorium studio the band is well augmented by "friends" Garcia, Nathan Golub (Dobro, steel guitar), Jay Shirley (keyboards), Aaron Phillips (woodwinds) and John Teer (mandolin, fiddle). With Baird's pleasant vocals, smart compositions and solid musicianship throughout, "And Friends" is a fun listen.