Born Free, Then Caged Music 2022
Lap-steel-laden ensemble leaden old favorites to refresh their shine and get away with it.
For all the originality of his approach, playing heavy metal on what’s considered a primarily country-rock instrument, Sean Williamson has never been opposed to throwing an occasional cover version into the crucible of this volatile ensemble – there were two on "Balls To The Wall" – so there’s no surprise in the Milwaukeean going for a full album of pieces from other artists’ repertoire. Quite a reason for the inverted colors of the “Uncaged” artwork which sees a quartet of velocihamsters run free, symbolizing the record’s creative liberty, but, perhaps, not a great excuse for keeping some of the pieces too close to originals. Still, when cuts by the Farina brothers and Sarah McLachlan run shoulders with BEASTIE BOYS and MOTÖRHEAD smashes, complains should possibly be thrown out the window.
And who would decry Sean’s fluid strings spanking Chuck Garric’s voice on opener “Ace Of Spades” or a couple of other guest singers on “Thunderstruck” before unleashing a vibrant solo, when their groovy filigree, oiled by Matt Turner’s fretless bass, is so impressive? And if “Frankenstein” gets a cosmic overhaul, the hefty “Sleepwalk” elevates its mesmeric, multilayered allure, while Williamson’s wondrously wordless takes on SNEAKER PIMPS’ “6 Underground” and LED ZEPPELIN’s “In The Evening” lead the entrancing source material to bluesy killing floor. Harnessing his own vocals on “Gratitude” to the pulsing riffs and Hammond roar, the guitarist may let rip yet he gives “Possession” an effervescently rocking uplift and allows the anthemic finale of “Tweezer Reprise” to pulse with a lot of welcome.
The same welcome that’s always been there – because it’s an irresistible call of wild.