ReviewShine Wednesday: Stone River Boys & Guthrie Kennard

Every Wednesday, I feature a quick review of at least one album that has been submitted to me through the ReviewShine website. I have cleverly titled this recurring segment “ReviewShine Wednesday.”

Today we’re going to focus on a couple of artists that you’ve probably heard from before. You just probably weren’t aware at the time exactly who it was you were listening to.

Our first artist of the day comes from Texas, where he spends most of his time playing bass alongside Ray Wylie Hubbard. In fact, if you were simply to listen to Guthrie Kennard on his new album Matchbox without knowing who it was, you might just believe that it was Hubbard growling his way through the album’s ten tracks. Hubbard does produce the album. He also lends some guitar licks and backing vocals from time to time. The star of the album though is unmistakably Kennard.

Kennard’s weathered voice is the perfect fit for the songs on this album. When he sings of getting stoned on the “Streets of Juarez” or threatens those who would “Cross That Line,” his gravely instrument lends an extra sense of authenticity to his words. He’s lived the hard times… and now he’s sharing them with you. I’m sharing a tune called “Streets of Juarez.” This one features backing vocals from Hubbard, Liz Foster, and Colin Brooks from The Band of Heathens.
Guthrie Kennard: Streets of Juarez (Buy Album)

Our next new/familiar artist is a band called the Stone River Boys. The genesis of the Stone River Boys came a few years ago with the passing of Hacienda Brothers vocalist/guitarist Chris Gaffney. The surviving Hacienda Brother, Dave Gonzalez, was tasked with putting together a road band that could carry on the Hacienda sound while honoring his fallen friend. Gonzalez formed a partnership with “The Tyrant of Texas Funk” Mike Barfield and the seeds of the Stone River Boys were planted.

The Boys’ debut album Love on the Dial was released yesterday and mostly moves in the same country/soul territory The Hacienda Brothers had perfected during their brief run. Barfield’s presence has brought a fresh take on that sound, however, and melded it into something the band calls “Country Funk.” It’s an apt title. There’s plenty of funk in tunes like the social-commentary-disguised-as-a-60’s-dance-tune “The Struggle.” They’ve also managed to turn the Gerry Goffin & Carol King penned Monkees’ hit “Take a Giant Step” into a country weeper. This is a fun album that has already gone into rotation at WDVX.
Stone River Boys: Can I Change My Mind (Buy Album)

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