Of the three Lou Reid CDs on which the current Carolina lineup of Kristy Reid, Shannon Slaughter and Trevor Watson plays, “My Own Set Of Rules” is the benchmark. The sound was highly varied, the material was, almost across the board, above average, and there was a snap to the performance. This release, featuring ten contemporary-written songs, comes in just slightly below that standard. The playing and singing are still of a high order, but the song selection is not as across-the-board varied or outstanding. Lou and the band do their best to breathe life into each track, but some don’t respond.
It is not until the fourth track, “Blew Monday,” that the right combination of verve, lyric and melody emerges. Until then, the material is fairly average, though the lilting remembering/longing song, “Oh, Kentucky,” had some good moments. “Blew Monday” is all good moments, telling of a man who had so much fun with his girl over the weekend that he skipped work Monday (and Tuesday). Set over a raggy melody and chord progression, its devil-may-care attitude brings an instant appeal.
Tracks seven through ten offer that same level of appeal. “Emmaline,” the first of them, is a cheating song, one set in the coalfields and one that is moody and vivid through to its mysterious ending. That’s followed by the gentle tale of a young man whose life is dedicated to becoming a “Preacher Man,” which is juxtaposed against “Carolina Moonshine Man,” a ripper guaranteed to get you moving. Lastly comes the bright, medium uptempo tale of a boy working hard to buy a “Big Old Red Guitar.” Drums and pedal steel give it a country tune feel, which makes for a nice contrast to the rest of the songs and takes the recording out in high spirits. (KMA Records, 256 E. Old Hickory Blvd., Madison, TN 37115, www.louriedandcarolina.com.)BW