Tramps & Thieves

Tramps & Thieves' first full-length release (with a whopping 16 tracks) is a lot more rockin' than the band's 2004 Mill Avenue Cowboys EP, with fewer acoustic moments and more straight-up shit-kickin' songs that address issues like the Iraq war, outlaw hippies, and hallucinating in the desert. Songs like "Sidewinder" and "Call You Baby" capture the band's affection for country ballads and winsome harmonica, but it's blazing tunes like "Barnburner," with its honky-tonk gee-tar and "yee-haw" vibe, that make the listener wanna get up and line-dance. There are some sonic snags when T&T tries on some blues in the song "Dusty Wheels," some folk in the title track (which takes its rhythm and riffs straight from Cat Stevens' "The First Cut Is the Deepest"), and some cheesy "woo-oo-oo" pop backing vocals on the song "Porcupine Jacket," but the band redeems itself on country-rock fusions like "Harlan's Coming Home," where singer Emmet DeGuvera — whose voice often resembles Elton John's timbre — adopts a country drawl to sing about a soldier's homecoming . . . in a casket. "I won't be cheering when Fallujah falls," DeGuvera sings, "because I don't understand why we're there at all." The political commentary of these desert dudes won't produce the kind of backlash the Dixie Chicks had to endure, but at least T&T made one more song that Dubya won't be adding to his country mix on Air Force One.


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